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Journal of Independent Film and Video Artists 


". . ./ got Brando. Redford. Nicholson and Streisand!!! Bill Goldman' II do script. 

Paul Simon' 11 do the score, Lumet 'II direct!! '. . .1 got em all. Committed!. I got a 

double-tier tax deal with a negative pick-up waiting in the wings and all I need is 

you!. . . " 

White Ox Films: Funding the Future 

Interview with Joan Shigekawa 

Other Ideas: Ed Lynch 


i The 


Dear Friends. 

Journal of Independent Film and Video Artists 

Journal for Moving Image Artists 

Vol. l,No. 1 July, 1976 

Editor: Ted Churchill 

Associate Editor: Thomas Lennon 

Executive Editor: John Miller 

Contributing Editors: Ed Lynch, Tom McDonough 

Design: Deborah Thomas, Ted Churchill 

Typesetting: Myrna Zimmerman 

The INDEPENDENT GAZETTE Is published by the 

Association of Independent Video & Filmmakers, Inc. 

This first issue of the INDEPENDENT GAZETTE was 

made possible by a grant from the New York State 

Council on the Arts. 

AIVF Board of Directors, 1976-77 

Ed Lynch, President 

Ted Churchill 

Max! Cohen 

Martha Coolidge, Chairperson 

Charles Levine 

Larry Loewinger, Treasurer 

Phillip Messina 

Alan Miller 

Kitty Morgan 

Amalic Rothschild, Vice-President 

Marc Weiss 

The Association is a not -for profit organization 

incorporated hi New York State in July, 1974. 

The Association is partially supported by the National 

Endowment for the Arts Public Media Program 

and the New York State Council on the Arts. 

©Copyright 1976 by Association of Independent Video and Film- 
makers, Inc. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in any 
manner, either in whole or in part, without written permission from 
the publisher 

This is the first issue of the INDEPENDENT 
GAZETTE. It is an extension of the work of the 
Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers 
Inc. in New York and is published through the 
participation and volunteer work of its membership as 
a service to and reflection of the independent film and 
video community. 

The independent community began in New York 
City; it had to. Whatever may be said about our city, 
it is brutally real. New Yorkers know that the prob- 
lems are not going to go away by themselves. We are 
learning a hard lesson and that lesson is teaching us 
that the rebirth of our city (and our country) depends 
on the rebirth of the community. Like the city, 
independent film and video artists are not assured of 
survival. The mechanism for that survival can only be 
created by ourselves. And it depends as much upon 
our successful communication with one another (our 
willingness to help one another) as it does on suc- 
cessful communication between us and our audiences. 
The creation of the AIVF was the beginning of that 
process. In the last two and a half years as our 
numbers increased we have experienced the growth of 
our strength, a vital crossflow of information, a sense 
of belonging and our development as a force for 
change. It has been a good feeling. 

As independent artists we speak individually 
through our work. Collectively we speak through our 
community and this newspaper. But we don't just 
speak about our films and tapes just as we don 7 make 
films and tapes simply about the process. Our work 
reflects our lives and visions as well as the lives and 
visions of others, be it in narrative or abstract, 
documentary or theatrical form. In this respect, whe- 
ther ornot you are a member of the AIVF, or even an 
independent film or video artist, the INDEPENDENT 
GAZETTE can be your newspaper as well. 

The INDEPENDENT GAZETTE has the potential 
to become an essential element in the growth of the 
independent community. But to do this it must be an 
accurate and representative reflection of that com- 
munity; not just in the city, but the state and country. 
We need a broad range of input, ideas and opinion. I 
hope you will consider the GAZETTE your newspaper 
and use it as such. We are all independent and we now 
have another vehicle for that vital expression. 

Ted Churchill 


Organism: An Interview with Hillary Harris 1 

Newsletter Discards and Other Ideas 

by Ed Lynch 2 

A Conversation with Barbara Haspiel 4 

Not a Pretty Picture by Martha Coolidge 5 

Making Friends with Super-8 

by Mark Mikolas 6 

WOMAN ALIVE! An Interview with 

Joan Shigekawa 7 

Video Systems by Alan Miller 10 

Indies Present Indies 14 

Film as Business by Freude 15 

Copyright: All Rights Reserved 

by Thomas Lennon , 17 

"Comin' Home'" (Box Office. That Is) 

by Kitty Morgan 20 

White Ox Films: Funding the Future 

by David Tulbert 21 

-Metroliner: A Review by Charles Levine 24 

The Closet Machinist by Ted Churchill 25 

The Association gratefully acknowledges those 
whose contributions made possible the First Annual 
Awards Dinner for independent film and video. 

Sustaining Members 
Mrs. Ethel Altschuler 
Eastman Kodak Co. 
Mr. E. David Rosen 
Mr. Daniel Sandberg 

Supporting Members 
Albert G. Ruben Co. 
Aquarius Transfer 
Mr. Larry Mischel 
Trans/ Audio Corp. 

Associate Members 

Accurate Film Labs 

Back Stage 

Bebell, Inc. 

Berkey Marketing Co. 

Cinelab Corp. 

Mr. Joseph Dragi 

Film Counselors, Inc. 

Gary Youngman Co. 

Mr. H. J. Goldstein 

Guffanti Film Labs 

J. G. Films 

Midwest Film Prods. 


Nehls & O'Connell, Inc. 

Plastic Reel Corp. 

Professional Films 

Quality Film Labs 

Mr. Irving Rathner 

Mrs. Samuel Rosen 

Shell Paper and Cordage Co. 

Vacuumate Corp. 

How then to acknowledge the legions of un- 
paid people whose volunteer energies have en- 
abled the Association to survive and grow in its 
first two years? To list all those who have given 
of their time and intelligence is an undertaking 
too vast to consider. Members have made 
speeches, brewed coffee, answered phones, sat 
through six-hour meetings, donated their films 
or tapes to be screened, stuffed envelopes, 
drafted statements, served on the Board, been 
ruled out of order, driven across town and 
country in the middle of the night, formed 
committees, transcribed tapes, turned their 
living-room couches into beds, borrowed their' 
relatives' trucks and typewriters, come to the 
Association meetings to speak and share their 
expertise . . .unsung heroes and heroines .... 


From Time Compression to Time Capsule 
An Interview with Hilary Harris 

Interview by Ted Churchill 
Transcriptions and editing by John Hiller 

Organism is a macrocosmic view of New York City 
which makes an analogy between living tissue and the 
structure of the city. Traffic arteries are seen as the 
bloodstream circulating through the urban body and 
its skyscrapers as the skeletal structure. The city's 
escalators, streets, railroad lines, shops, markets, 
bridges, beaches and parades are seen as parts of a 
delicately balanced living structure. 

TC: In terms of production. Organism is very 
unique. I'd like you to talk about how it was done 
technically and what it meant to you. 

HH: I got into film through abstract films. I like to 
bring that up because people don't think of me in that 
field since I haven't done abstract films for a long 
time. My second film, Generation, was a completely 
abstract film of a kaleidoscope pattern and a very key 
film for me; I learned a lot making it. It took me a 
year to make and it only lasts three minutes. It was, or 
sort of formed for me, a kind of "essence" basis for 
my approach to film. 

I'm often doing research on a kinetic generator 
which I hope, eventually, will evolve and allow me to 
do abstract films again. But I'm not ready to do that 
now. This gets complicated because at the same time I 
set up the studio I emerged with this idea for a feature 
film on New York City. It was fourteen years ago, 
right around 1962. I have put together various 
sketches for that film. I've shown them. I had a 
Lincoln Center showing sometime in '66 and then 
showed them in a Parks Festival a couple of years 
later. It kept evolving, and I have copies of those work 
prints. It's kind of interesting — when I get to a certain 
stage, I do a quarter-inch track. I do my own mixing 
on quarter-inch. It's not like a perfect locked-in sync, 
but it's close enough since I'm not using lip-sync in 
the film. Then, before I tear the work print apart, I 
make a slop copy of the work print which matches the 

Anyway, the film hasn't changed in its basic intent, 
which is to capture, to try to capture, what a city is 
really about on a certain gut and cerebral level, a 
combination gut/cerebral level. It's an attempt to 
have a holistic view of where we are in the city. It 
doesn't attempt to be a document; it attempts to be an 
interpretation, a crystallization of reality, so that after 
you've seen it you can relate to the city better, you can 
understand it better. That's the theory. And you can 
also take responsibility for it; that's the ultimate aim. 
You know, we're in a place that we're creating every 
minute, and we have to realize that, and we have to 
realize that it is alientating but also something we 
have to take responsibility for. It's too easy to become 
alienated and rejected, and I want a sense of involve- 
ment with it. So, I'm looking at a lot of positive and 

negative aspects of the city and trying to just grasp the 
physical complexity of it, just on that level, to show 
that we're all embedded in a symbiosis. 

Now Organism represents one of the themes of the 
big film, what I call a time/space theme. It's the most 
distant view of the city that you can get. It's like one of 
those aerial shots of seeing the islands lying there 
surrounded by the water and just contemplating the 
physicality of it and the mechanistic life of it on a 
purely kind of mechanistic/ biological level. I tend to 
think of the city as nature, a physical kind of nature. I 
don't make a dichotomy between the city and the 
country because it is a special kind of nature and it 
has beauties, and I'm trying to bring up some of those 
beauties. I think that helps us to love it better and to 
relate to it better. So Organism looks at this very 
distant view and sort of gives you a super perspective 
which gives you a special relationship. In the big film, 
that will be one strand, one theme. 

Now the next thing I want to do is on the work 
symbiosis, the work activity, the incredible way that 
we all depend on each other for life and existence in 
the city. We sort of take it for granted that we can go 
out and buy paper, a pack of cigarettes, a pencil, just 
like that on the corner without thinking that maybe 
half a million people made it possible and that it's all 
a part of this enormous service system that has evolved 
for the city. It's going to be a kind of lyric view of it, 
but it will be a more intimate, down-to-earth view 
than Organism is. But it won't be as intimate as the 
other themes in the film I want to get to after that one, 
I want to get into a social and political aspect of the 
city — the human struggle to try to progress, to emerge, 
to become on a social level and citywide level, and 
then, lastly, the most intimate level, which is the 
personal, the struggle to become. To do that, I'm 
going to get into intimate discussions between people, 
probably all in off-screen dialogue, in a kind of poetic 
juxtaposition where the personal problems also reflect 
the broader social problems and they all interconnect 
and everything starts weaving in and out. But the 
theme of human struggle coming through it all and 
moving toward the climax of the film... we're led 
gradually toward an abyss of not knowing what the 
hell we're doing. And that's part of any creative 
process I find when I do a film. I find a lot of people 
share that with me, that we're willing to go through a 
place where we don't know what we're doing, where 
the struggle, whether it's personal, social, or aes- 
thetic, is a blind kind of struggle, and the answers just 
don't come. We've got to be willing to suffer that 
anxiety; if we do, the answers come out and then 
there's a rebirth of energy, a new seeing, a new inte- 
gration, and then a kind of celebration as a result of 
that. And that's the philosophical structure of the 

film. A very difficult concept and one which will be 
interesting to get across on film without screen dia- 
logue. I've done quite a few experiments with it, and I 
know I'm on the right track, but it's still quite a 
challenge to get it done. 

Anyway, does that give you a sense of where 
Organism came from? 

TC: It does. 

HH: Where it wants to go? 

TC: Yes. Your whole film, though, is not going to 
be in stop motion, is it? 

HH: Oh, no. No, no. It'll. . .as a matter of fact, I'm 
dying to get back to live action photography because 
the camera movement is one of the expressive tools of 
the filmmaker for me. And that's why Organism was 
quite frustrating at times and the reason I went to the 
extent of building some of the special equipment. 

TC: Special equipment? 

HH: Yes. The camera is basically a recording 
device, and the way we can get expression into that 
recording device is to move the camera, follow our 
subjects, work in counterpoint with the movement, in 
sympathy with the movement. Perspective, lens 
change, angles, and so on, all have to do with the 
aesthetics of cinematography and the expressive 
qualities that come through those decisions and 
choices. When we go into editing, it's again recreated 
through the movement possibilities of editing. 

On the other hand, like during a stop-motion film 
like Organism, it got very frustrating for me not to be 
able to move the camera because basically you usually 
lock down a camera and look at a scene that's taking 
place. It has kinetic elements in it, but I was dying to 
do a sweep over the city with the camera and zoom in 
on some specific things and zoom back. So I built a 
tripod. In my original budget to the NEA, I actually 
put down something like twelve hundred bucks to 
develop a special rig; it took a lot more money than 
that to do it, actually. First of all, I built a camera, 
which is a bit unique. I didn't build the whole camera, 
just a drive for an old Newman-Sinclair camera which 
has a nice steady pull down, a stationary registration 
pin, and it's a 35mm camera. By the way, this is 
almost all shot in 35. There are a few things that have 
been blown up from 16. But in this camera I put in a 
motor drive with clutches and timers and switches so I 
could select whether the camera was going to be. . . 
well, let me say it this way: what I could do with it was 
stop it in either shutter-closed or shutter-opened 
position. It gave me the option to have a time 
exposure at anywhere from two to twenty seconds on 
each frame of film. That's why you get those ex- 
posures at night. And I had two timers, one for the 

continued on page 28 

Independent GAZETTE/Ju/y, 1976/ 1 

0m£ vzms/i/p cm #&£ 

by Ed Lynch 

Science fiction and art — an unlikely combination. I 
don't know if the galaxy contains such a story, but it 
would have been helpful as a model for this one. 
Though this is sort of an essay, and partly a story, it is 
more an attempt to talk about the wole thing: a 
philosophical sketch of the life and times of the 
independent motion picture maker and artist {film 
and video are both motion pictures) on this planet, in 
this country, primarily in this New York City, at this 

Of course, if I lack traditional credentials for a 
project this comprehensive, perhaps no one else has 
them either. A good generalise like the mythical 
country doctor, is hard to find. As a filmmaker and 
cameraman. I did travel a lot, careening through air- 
ports that looked alike and motels that smelled alike 
into homes, offices, factories hospitals, churches, 
bars, and backrooms, catching images and interviews 
with Senators, bums, beauty queens, alligator poach- 
ers, steel workers, scientists, poets, surgeons, quacks, 
prostitutes, drug addicts, kids, cooks, fighters, rock 
stars, and countless other queer- and- straight, lost- 
and-found characters across the strange and lovely 
country we call America. That's my resume, along 
with my own miscellaneous son-of-the-country back- 
yard that began a stone's throw from the Pittsburgh 
steel mills, a bit of hard-earned street-smarts, and a 
sociologist's passions for figuring out what it's all 

My intention from the beginning was to make the 
following effort fun — at least as much fun as looking 
at you. me. and our technological art form with good 
humor. And that, it strikes me, is very serious busi- 
ness. On a field as broad and undefined as ours, the 
problems of composition are no less difficult than 
those of life itself. The extraordinary number of 
unruly parts of our Twentieth Century lives would tax 
the skills of President Ford's Secret Service to wrestle 
them to the ground. I have no such elevated or athletic 
ambitions. Instead, I admit to a need to share my 
experiences and perspectives, a need that is as funda- 
mental as any biological urge. 

The need to discuss, the need to plan, the need to 
clarify, the need to understand what we are doing as 
craftspeople, artists and citizens is primary. Our own 
kine-kinetic (!) corner tends to be totally absorbing, 
especially because it is coupled to an ever-present 
need to survive. No matter how captivating our work 
is, it is not enough. We need to understand, to clarify 
our relationship to our culture (such as it is) whose hot 
breath is never more than a few inches from the back 
of our necks, just so that we can work with our heads 
clear. It is not easy to do, and is generally put aside 
until there is enough time to do it right. When is that? 
Doctors cannot keep up with their journals, asphalt 
crews cannot keep up with the potholes, garbagemen 
cannot keep up with the packaging industry, scientists 
cannot even catalogue the newly synthesized sub- 
stances. Businessmen, politicians, and labor leaders 
play a polite game of blindman's bluff and the honest 
mechanic has his and her hands in the air. No bad kid 
is needed to kick in our house of blocks. It is already 
down and we are all up to our knees. 

Urgency is terribly subjective. The questions that 
we need to ask ourselves may have answers as remote 
and unknowable as the ozone layer, but no less 
serious. Is the "milk" already spilled, or just being 
spilled? Are the doomsayers creating hopelessness? 
Are the positivists silly Pollyannas? And why does 
"Who's in charge here?" always get a laugh? Because 
everyone knows it's no one. 

Our daily reflector, our technological mirror, tele- 
vision, should tell us something about an emergency. 
Walter Cronkite is "buddies" with half the country. 
His sedentary and imperturbable image tells us that 

he's not really worried. Perhaps not, but that might 
well be more a function of his personal economics 
than any real confidence in the wisdom of his network. 
Behind his show is a broadcasting corpus that has 
more tight asses, more broken psyches, more ulcers, 
and more suicides than all the daily soap operas 
combined.* Their daily executive diet of programming 
and advertising decisions is an embarrassment to one 
of our deepest traditions: an honest day's work. 

When things are so obviously crazy, in the cultural 
sense, the hardest thing to do is to stay connected. 
There are so many good, solid reasons to think only 
about yourself. It is almost impossible to think global- 
ly, to remember that we are a space ship. If our own 
survival were as internally supportive as an organic 
farm, it might make sense to attempt to ignore the 
"big picture." Our form is basically public, the public 
is basically changing. What is our part? 

As citizens we took action and defeated the legis- 
lation for an Independent American Film Institute, 
and we have worked for change in the proposed copy- 
right legislation. If we understand that it is possible to 
defeat and change our government's actions, then it is 

only half-a-hair to knowing that we can stop a lot of 
other things too. Maybe we can convince our legis- 
lators that there are many more enlightened things to 
do with our money. Maybe we can use our art form for 
change as well as art. 

Government is" just one part, albeit an extremely 
powerful part of our culture. If we are to strengthen 
our connection to the many parts of our culture and 
our country, it can only happen if we believe that we 
can change it. We must understand how our work 
affects our audiences. We have no history, no cate- 
chism. Ralph Nader admits that his consumer move- 
ment asks people to think, even though he knows that 
history has always supported movements that have 
asked people to believe. We need to do both: think 
and believe. In order to do either we must be 

On a Labor Day, way back in those days, I was 
returning from Horse Head Beach on the Connecticut 
Turnpike, slowing coming down from acid. I felt vul- 
nerable. The realities were coming on, and I stayed 
around 55. The super-highway was, and only the 
clichfe will do, bumper to bumper. Thousands of us 

*I remember shooting a piece with a well-known NBC 
newscaster who daily, with aplomb and perfect dead- 
pan, delivered the good and the bad news. Privately 
he worried that all the new, and huge, heavy buildings 
at 6th Ave. and 51st Street would collapse the earth's 
crust and bury him. 

rolled into a toll plaza that could handle less than half 
our swarm. Using my crafty, hard-won education on 
toll-booth flow, I took aim for the far right, knowing 
that most of the drivers think the automatic lanes are 
faster. They are, of course, but because everyone 
thinks they are, they are not. My lane was much 
shorter but still 20 or 30 cars. I nudged closer. 

The quarter-collector, a young man of about 19, 
moved swiftly in and out of his booth working the 
change, the space, the different hands and windows 
with amazing speed. I slipped onto the concrete and 
offered a quarter. He reached for my hand before I 
had stopped, took the nickel and copper sandwich so 
quickly, so efficiently that just in order to do my quid 
pro quo I had to immediately release the brake and 
step on the gas. I did. But not before I had, in the 
miraculously fractured moment at his door, and 
through my still hyper-sensitive, half-blown mind, a 
genuine, time-honored acid-flash. 

That young, 19-year-old kid was not just a techni- 
cian, executing his winning personality on a dull, 
hard, repetitious job. Pay and time-cards had no 
meaning. He was wired into the whole contraptive 
mass of people, transportation modules and exhaust 
fumes. He had agreed to make the whole unforgivable 
American freeway nightmare his own. He didn't want 
me to stop. He was in a mad, desperate attempt to 
help the nearly helpless through his toll booth, down 
the highway, out of their cars and into their homes. I 
slid off the concrete pad and burst into tears. 

Oh God! What was it that allowed that kid to desert 
his own skin and take such a huge, preposterous 
mistake to his very own soul? It was a modern-day 
miracle because every elevator operator, taxi driver, 
cop, butcher, bus-boy, go-go girl and politician 
knows better. They don't plug in because they already 
"know" there is nothing to be done. They aren't con- 
nected. They don't believe in change. 

Well, as in most acid flashes, it tells you more about 
the viewer than the viewee. I did, and I do cry for the. 
heart of a boy, or girl, who instinctively believes that 
there is something that can be done. If you live in the 
city long enough, you try to forgive the pervasive 
cynicism and want to love the people who are a part of 
your daily life just to avoid burning up in your own 
hate and frustration. You look for the person beneath 
the carnage, the timid survivor beneath the damaged 
exterior. So be it. But if you take a trip out of the city 
and run smack into a natural, innocent, heart-on-the- 
sleeve refusal to disengage, it can be very powerful 
indeed. And it was. 

I admit to a day-to-day struggle to continue to care 
about what happens to the whole thing. For most of 
my life it has been the easiest thing in the world to feel 
a part of everything else: hunger, poverty, stupidity 
and all the nice things too. I feel pride in the profound 
humanity that New Yorkers showed during the masive 
blackout, but I have not had a day when I have not 
remembered that we are the world's greatest seaport 
and the Hudson is too filthy for swimming and fish- 
ing. I felt in personal, daily pain from the moment 
that Tricky Dick became my President. So it was 
natural for me to choose what I called the most power- 
ful art form, film, for my vocation. It was easy for me 
to expect that I could help gear up for national 
enlightenment and social change. 

It didn't sound naive then, although I didn't go 
around saying all those things out loud. We hadn't 
had the second chapter of Harvest of Shame. (Chet 
Huntley did a memorial documentary on migrant 
workers exactly ten years after Murrow. The condi- 
tions were just as bad if not worse. ) Many of us were in 
the first blush of cinema verit6. We were going to be 
able to share our intimate perceptions, And once 
those millions of Fellow-Americans saw what we saw, 
crystalized and carefully honed to show the un- 
varnished truth, they, and then we, would have to 

2 /July. 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

"As independents our choices cannot be any 
simpler than our culture, no more pure than the 
Mississippi. But we are and will remain victims 
of the 'culture' as long as we do not have a vision, 
as long as we do not have reliable magic of our 
own. " 

stop making all those embarrassing mistakes. The 
logic, or the lesson, no matter if it was abstract, 
would be stimulating to action. In a short period of 
time, certainly in my lifetime {!), social justice would 
take enormous strides forward if not to some sort of 
mini-climax: bring up the music, light up the rain- 
bows. I'm not kidding, I thought so. 

OK, it was childish, if boyishness has none of its 
own peculiarities. We know better now. The sight of 
mass misery does not raise up mass missionaries, or 
even concerned citizens. People don't leap to action 
from their film and tape lessons. Even it if is a hand- 
held lesson. 

My impression of the people who worked in the 
early verite' days was that they had been seduced by 
film-the-power-and-the-technology, and not film-the- 
art-form. We were part of a very special documenta- 
tion crew of the super-special sixties when great 
events, protests, love-ins, be-ins, rock and roll, dope, 
acid and Woodstock happened. And it all did 
happen and it all did die. All? Well, I have found 
that staying in touch with those sixties attitudes is 
almost impossible and probably a waste of time. It 
cannot be done with your favorite drug, and it cannot 
be done by ignoring the reactionary seventies. 

Is it any wonder that the New York Times finally 
had to run an article on the depression that is the 
most obvious quality of what is left of the Love 
Generation? We, and I don't mean the folks in 
motion pictures, saw the need for change and took a 
desperate plunge to get it. So now it is perfectly logi- 
cal that we are on couches and crutches. We may 
have been misguided; we may have misjudged the 
character of the country, but we aren't finished yet, 
not all of us. Many people from that passionate time 
are still looking for a way to do some of the same 
things that we wanted to do then. I am. Government 
and business cynics who slithered through the sixties 
with nary a scratch are only now beginning to admit 
that something might be wrong with the country, 
now that something is wrong with the economy. They 
are frightened and are bad partners for change. They 
will build the Tower of Babel or anything else for 
jobs and political security. Their example of pragma- 
tism is really short-sighted self-interest. 

I've tried it. I have said to myself more than once 
that it is time that I thought about money, and that I 
should really try to make some because then I could 
do what I really want to do. Yes? No. Or unlikely. It 
didn't work for me because it required me to detach 
from thinking about the effects of what I was doing. 
I have been told that it is necessary to be a profes- 
sional, and in that capacity, that definition, it is not 
"your problem" what the production is about. It is 
not the same degree of responsibility that an artist or 
an active citizen has. The professional assumes that 
the job is there to do, must be done, and if it is done 
well then it has been done right. That assumption 
goes deeper than the job, of course, straight to the 
heart of the country. If you can assume that there is 
a film or videomaking tradition that can simply be 
plugged into, then Godspeed. I cannot. I have lost 
my first, blind, romantic love for anything that is 
film. I have instead a wholesale skepticism about a 
media approach to progress. Our history is too short, 
our technology too volatile. If we are to do our work 
well, then it must be coupled to a vision that is 
beyond a professional execution, beyond a political 
four years, beyond a middle-class lifestyle, and 
beyond being victims of our own technological 

There was a simpler structure, one that survives in 
remote places on our globe: tribal. It was and is the 
last culture simple enough to understand and there- 
fore it has the appearance of health. It was a survival 
culture. If you were a hunter you hunted and the daily 
need for food assured that you were a valuable 

member of the tribe. The same was true for the herds- 
man or the witch doctor. We, no less than any tribe, 
are having to face raw survival questions. I know well 
the industrial function of film, the definition of film 
and video as a tool of the corporations. Our work 
cannot have the same, superficial logic. But neither 
is the "art for art's sake" argument enough. It 
demands a second part: what does it do? We must 
make it clear that our work is not a luxury that is 
affordable only when there is extra cash. We must 
make clear to ourselves and to our much more com- 
plex "tribe" our function as motion picture makers 
and artists. 

In my own approach to my work I have been care- 
less of the definitions and the problems of art- 
oriented cinema and video. I am changing my mind. 
Don't get me wrong. I have already protested a hun- 
dred times that I have a commoner's heart, and I 
know in my heart of midwestern heart that art, or 
ART, in its present cultural setting is shamelessly 
elitist. What did it have to do with me? 

I was afraid to come to New York, but more afraid 
not to. I didn't like to admit it, but it worried me not 
to know how smart they were in the Naked City. 
Pennsylvania never felt like home. I had not found a 
teacher, never met an artist, and never seen a life I 
admired. But I wasn't coming to New York to get 
something over on the folks at home. I did not es- 
pecially want to get "way out." I was always more 
interested to see if everyone could take a step together 
than to see if I could take ten myself. I always knew 
that I could march by myself. The challenge was to 
see if we could march. I was sure that they knew how 
to march in New York City. Otherwise how could 
they survive? 

Surprise! Not only is New York not into group 
trips, it is unbearably elitist in almost everything: 
food, clothing, music, dance, etc., etc., etc. And in 
the hip technological and communicative sense, 
cinema verite was the elite of the elite. It had the 
charisma of discovery and the power of mass com- 
munication. We knew what we were doing with our 
snazzy new Eclairs and Nagras. Yes, there was even 
a self-righteous edge, and we used it. We loved and 
we helped people, but we also intimidated people, 
tricked them, and used them more often than they 
used us. But we were in touch with magic. We, and 
when I say we I mean all those people who know who 
I mean, were the witch doctors, the medicine men 

"... That young kid in the booth had agreed to 
make the American freeway nightmare his 
own . . . He was in a mad, desperate attempt to 
help the nearly helpless through his toll booth, 
down the highway, out of their cars and into their 
homes ..." 

(including some women), the media conjurers of the 
sixties. We had a heady brew in hand, and we just 
knew that the energy was too good to be fragile. 
None of us understood that Woodstock was created 
by coincidence and not craft. 

Enough romantic incantations have been sung to 
the Woodstock experience to make me hesitate to do 
the same. But it was probably the most magical event 
in our collective lives. Six years later we begin to 
understand that things can get lost, that our most 
powerful tribal experiences are not our own to re- 
peat. Our government, both local and national, 
worked to destroy our magic. Even so the losses were 
mostly caused by our own ignorance. In any self- 
respecting tribe the one thing that is demanded of 
the witch doctor is that he or she be able to repeat 
the magic. Luck or coincidence is not good enough. 
Woodstock is a lesson that we should all take to 
heart rather than to our albums. If we have an in- 
dependent vision then it must be something that we 
understand well enough to be able to conceive, create 
or produce, and repeat. We must be able to conjure 
our magic and then conjure it up again. Black South- 
ern churches know that Sunday will be another great 
spiritual meeting. The congregation goes to that spe- 
cial place needing it, expecting it, and demanding it 
with full knowledge of the way it is done. 

That kind of craft puts magic into the art of life. 
Our art must function like a vital organ. Our silly 
economic approach to art causes it to be cut out of our 
lives and our communities. Most of our "authenti- 
cated" art is dealt back and forth between collectors, 
speculators, dealers, galleries, museums, corpora- 
tions, thieves, and then back around again at higher 
prices. It is silly that any of our art should inhabit 
museums, burglar-proof estates, corporation corri- 
dors and the climate-controlled basements of all 
three. It is anti-life to the extent that it is really art: 
the legacy of people who know and translate the 
spirit and genius of life. The whole syndrome is 
exactly like dealing in Wampum: it is the wretched 
thievery of the public soul. So it had nothing do do 
with me. 

So I thought. I had managed to avoid the silliness of 
connecting money and art {we did know about the 
potentially perverse and oppressive relationship be- 
tween the church and the state, didn't we?) by simply 
working in the people's medium, film and video. If it 
was art, that was all right as long as it didn't interfere 
with what I was doing. And to some degree it has been 
true. Despite serious thrusts by some members of the 
avant garde, with few exceptions the galleries have 
refused to deal in films and tapes. The economics 
have not been there. We are probably all the luckier 
for it. 

What I suggest is necessary is that motion picture 
artists join hands with other artists to examine, dis- 
cuss, and then to destroy our current way of "seeing" 
and dealing in art. We need to connect historically to 
the function of art for our own understanding, and 
then move toward a way of working that will exclude 
the vicious and destructive dealers, agents and power 
brokers that stand between us and our communities 
and audiences. History will support us. 

It would be handy if we could first agree on a 
definition of art. I am interested in an intellectually 
satisfying definition but I am more interested in 
finding a way to simplify the words and the concepts 
and thereby return the art experience to the people. 
Most people consider themselves to be totally ex- 
cluded from their own art experience. The few that 
visit museums go with more of an attitude that 
reminds one of respect for the dead rather than an 
understanding of life. If these people are to be 
included in an understanding of art, then it must be 

continued on page 26 

Independent GAZETTE/July, 1976/3 

A Conversation 
with Barbara Haspiel 

Interview by Tom McDonough 

On February 2nd, I talked for about an hour with 
Barbara Haspiel of the New York State Council on the 
Arts. Barbara's job is "program associate," which, in 
the State Council, means something like program or 
department head. The Department in this case is 
film. Barbara has as much to do as anyone in New 
York with funding the activities of independent film- 

We talked about a lot of things to try to get a 
picture of what the State Council is up to. It was by no 
means a definitive conversation, but Barbara did 
develop some ideas of how independent filmmakers 
can funnel their ambitions through a potentially 
helpful bureaucracy. We started by trying to define 
what the State Council does. 

* * * 

BH: The Council is mandated by law to do several 
things. One is that we are required to grant funds only 
to non-profit organizations in New York State. That's 
a very big item, the words "non-profit organization." 
We're mandated to fund organizations as opposed to 
individuals. So occasionally what will happen is that 
individuals will organize into a non-profit organiza- 
tion, like the AIVF. 

We're also mandated to distribute our money geo- 
graphically. We have a requirement to spend 55 cents 
per person per county. But there's just not a whole lot 
going on in the arts in, say, Wyoming County. Still, 
legislatively, the money must be spent there. Which 
means that people in New York City, where most of 
the filmmakers are, along with those cultural organi- 
zations requiring large chunks of money, can get 
stung. One thing the Film Department doesn't believe 
in is cultural carpetbagging, but maybe we're going to 
have to start doing something like that, and maybe 
that's a way we can get around to helping individuals, 
particularly in film. If you wanted to send the New 
York City Ballet to Wyoming County, for example, 
that's an incredible amount of money. But if you 
wanted to send a filmmaker and his or her film there 
and screen it in the local library or movie theater, the 
filmmaker and the community would get a great deal 
out of it. We'd be able to fulfill our mandate of per 
capita spending. 

What we're working toward in this case is a kind of 
distribution-exhibition system. This is an idea that's 
still mostly an idea. We've thought about forming a 
forty-city circuit in New York State. We figured that 
the state has about forty cities of the size that could 
handle independent cinema programs. It could go 
larger, but it would probably start smaller — ten cities, 
maybe. Filmmakers could make money on rentals and 
appearances; they might even go for a week's stint. If 
filmmakers could make $50 or $100 or $200 a day, 
plus travel and per diem, that might be a way to 
support their work, get some feedback and build an 

I have this idea — it may be an old, absurd idea — 
but I think movies should be seen in movie theaters. 
Our idea would be to take an off-night in a local 
theater — not a weekend night — and program films 
made by independents in New York State, package a 
program of films interrelated with each other, and 
bicycle them around the state. The filmmakers could 
come in, talk about their films, get some reactions. 
It's great feedback for the filmmaker and it's great for 
the community to be able to demystify independent 
cinema. But maybe we should define what an in- 
dependent filmmaker is. 

(We got into a long rap here in which a number of 
definitions drifted by. I had the strange sensation of 
not being able to remember my own name.) 

BH: I find it sometimes a problem to define for 
people at the Council what an independent filmmaker 
is, because it gets to be very general, very broad. Let's 

define an independent filmmaker as someone who 
makes movies. 

TMcD: That narrows it down nicely. 
BH: Another question is this: so you're an in- 
dependent filmmaker, and you've gotten your CAPS, 
your NEA, your AFI, or whatever — now what? This is 
a new community of people we're going to have to 
address ourselves to soon. We have to think about 
these people who have gotten grants, as well as the 
people who have not gotten grants. I think the 
distribution-exhibition circuit is a way to do that 
TMcD: What about television? 
BH: Public television? There's not enough money 
there. There's exposure, but no money. I'm thinking 
about how you're going to get some money back into 
your pocket. Perhaps one of the things we ought to do 
is to encourage public television — since public tele- 
vision is easier to encourage than commercial televi- 
sion — to show more independent films. But right 
now, public television is struggling to keep stations on 
the air. So which way do we go? Are there any sugges- 
tions? We'd like to know. Knowing our restrictions — 
that we cannot fund individuals, that we have to work 
with non-profit organizations, that we must concern 
ourselves with fiscal liability, geographic distribution, 
all those things. . . 

TMcD: Well, what kind of suggestions do you 

BH: In a lot of ways, we're at the hub here; we hear 
the complaints, rather than all the answers. We sure 
know what the problems are. We develop solutions, 
not a lot of them, but some solutions over a period of 
years. With MERC, for example, we started with 
some Super-8 equipment five years ago, and now 
we're into about $130,000 worth of all kinds of 
equipment: Super-8, 16mm, video, post-production. 
And in response to the people who work with the 
equipment and have need for it. 

Another thing we've tried to do is help library 
systems expand and develop their collections of in- 
dependent films. What libraries have to deal with is 
catalogues that say, "Lovely film, 10 minutes, color, 
$150." What we do is send out consultants, librarians 
like Bill Sloan of the Donnell Library, who have an 
understanding of what's going on with independent 
films. That's a shorthand way of getting money back 
into the pockets of individuals. 

TMcD: What's the best way for film and video 
people to get information about grants? Is there some 
kind of clearinghouse? 

BH: There really isn't. We've prepared some foun- 
dation directory lists — what kind of foundations will 
give grants for what kinds of things — and that's avail- 
able in our public relations office. The more things we 
hear about, the more we try to spread the information 
around. I must say that the film and video community 
is an open community; people like to share their 
information. It used to be that people were cloistered. 
Everyone was inventing the wheel all over again, but 
that's changing. Places like the AIVF should be 
funded, by us or whomever, to have somebody on staff 
to do some of the research and know what's going on. 
The Council doesn't have enough staff; that's why we 
cheered when the AIVF happened. 

When the AIVF started, I was very excited, because 
I thought, at last, we have our own organization, a 
grass roots, self-help group. For example, when the 
NEA Bicentennial film grants came along, there was 
no central place to go and get a mailing list, so we got 
the AIVF's list to fill out the CAPS list. We had a way 
to let people know about these grants. We're still not 
reaching everybody, but this is the kind of thing the 
AIVF really helps us with — it's a forum. 

TMcD: You've read a lot of proposals. What makes 
a good one? 
BH: The basic thing is to tell what you want to do, 

why it should be a movie — rather than a book, say, 
and why you're the person to do it, what you've done 
in the past, and what you hope to do with it in the 
future. Distribution is sometimes a worry, but not so 
much with these NEA Bicentennial grants, because 
the Endowment has said that they're going to try to 
help with distribution. When they get maybe 40 films 
made, they may want to do some kind of series on 
public television. 

Another thing about the Bicentennial grants — 
they're matching grants, which means that the Coun- 
cil has to come up with the amount offered by the 
Endowment. We also do a lot of matchmaking in 
other areas. Someone may call and say they need an 
editor; we may know that so-and-so is looking for 
work. There's also some county money around; old 
Bethpage may want an historical film made. Some- 
thing like the AIVF's membership and skills list is a 
good source for this kind of thing. 

We're a state agency. It's all tax money. Everybody 
should have an equal opportunity, at least to know 
about the grants, to be in competition with everybody 
else. What it comes down to is serving the greatest 
number of people with the least amount of money. We 
don't have a Nielsen rating system to contend with, 
but we have to take service into consideration. We 
have to be terribly realistic about a state budget that 
has to be balanced. The New York State Council on 
the Arts is sort of born again every year. Every year, 
just as an organization has to apply to the Council for 
money, we have to apply to the Legislature. 

TMcD: There was a time in the 60*s when film 
school graduates could look to independent personal 
filmmaking as a viable vocation. The AFI had just 
started; there was access to public television via things 
like PBL. What about the future? 

BH: I think it depends on building audiences. Art 
Workers' Newsletter said recently that independent 
filmmakers earn an average of $600 a year from their 
films. Some make nothing, some lose moi.ey, the 
range varies widely, but $600 is spoken of as an 
average. So I guess if you look at it that way, it's not a 
viable vocation. But if we can get the audience inter- 
ested — and this is not going to happen instantly — if 
we can get the audience interested in looking at some- 
thing other than Jaws, or even something in addition 
to Jaws ... I think that's one of the things the Council 
should do, is to help create that demand, whether it's 
through our forty-city circuit, or a two-city circuit, or 
getting more films on television. That would be a good 
beginning. LJ 

the film business 

it's a business 
he said 

it's only a job 
he said 

it's my life 

my organs hanging out of my mind 
dripping blood on celluloid 
my back arched 
paralyzed in defiance 

i've only just been born 

by karen back 

4 /July, 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

Not a Pretty Picture: 

A Transition from Documentary to Low-Budget Fiction 

Like many of us independent filmmakers, I have 
always wanted to make fiction films. The major 
deterrent was that the budget of a fiction film is 
prohibitively higher than that for a documentary. 
Distribution also posed a problem, as a non-feature- 
length fiction film must have a very specific purpose; 
i.e., a direct teaching film or an entertaining theatri- 
cal short. But in the last couple of years, I became 
frustrated with the limitations of the documentary 
portraits I was making because I wanted to look 
deeper into people's lives without invading their pri- 
vacy. I then got an idea for a small, part fiction, semi- 
autobiographical film based on my own rape. I would 
have no privacy problem with myself, and the film 
would be fictionalized, using actors in an inprovisa- 
tional rehearsal setting as well as in straight fiction. 
What began as a small film grew to feature length, 
and I learned a lot about working under a very special 
condition: low-budget fiction. This is the single ele- 
ment which makes this a genre different from any 
other. The LOW-BUDGET has very specific prob- 
lems connected with it, particularly when it is a period 
film. This one was set in 1962. 

To start with, a low-budget fiction film is often the 
director's and everyone else's first attempt. The prob- 
lem, however, is that you don't have the experience 
which might make up for the lack of money in terms 
of fewer mistakes. In the case of Not a Pretty Picture 
(with eternal indebtedness to the people I met through 
AIVF), all the major positions on the crew were filled 
by professionals. In the positions particular to Fiction 
films, such as props, make-up, sets, script and P.A.s, 
we had more enthusiasm than professional experi- 
ence. We were lucky in that the props and costumes of 
the period (which was no high point of fashion) could 
be found in our trunks, basements and in thrift shops. 

I hadn't made a fiction film since graduate school, 
and the bulk of my theatre acting and directing 
experience had been in college. I was nervous and I 
wasn't quite sure where to start looking for actors. I 
had a very specific improvisational process in mind 
and the actors had to be young and non-union. 
Instead of putting a notice in the paper, which I have 
found in the past to be often more frustrating than 
fruitful, I called friends of mine with theatre and 
acting connections and described to them who I 
needed. In this way the actors who I saw fit my re- 
quirements and came highly recommended. 1 simply 
had to find the people I wanted. 

Casting is a talent in itself, and certainly a major 
decision point for any motion picture. In this case I 

by Martha Coolidge 

could not afford actors who had had a lot of film 
experience. I decided to look for the element which 
was the most risky in the film: the rehearsal improvi- 
sation and the use of the actors as people. As a docu- 
mentary portraitmaker, this was an area I felt very 
sure of. I knew that the actors had to have certain 
qualities as themselves to work in the rehearsal scene. 
The most important roles were the woman who would 
play me and the rapist. I wanted a woman who had 
had a similar experience and who would have certain 
qualities in common with me. The actor had to be a 
nice guy himself and be able to play a jock rapist. 
Both of these actors would have to externalize the 
process in which they rehearsed, as that would be the 
essence of the rape scene. 

Instead of having the actors read, I simply had long 
talks with them. The first quality I looked for was 
something filmic about them, which is the same in 
documentary or fiction. I also needed an "excite- 
ment" from them about the film's idea which would 
show in the rehearsal and, for them, might make up 
for my lack of finances. They also had to be candid 
about their own lives on camera, which is especially 
difficult for actors who are by necessity conscious of 
their image. 

I felt very lucky to find Michele Manenti and Jim 
Carrington. They had known and worked with each 
other before, which would help us in the rehearsal 
scene. It would be particularly helpful for Michele 
who had been raped under similar circumstances. I 
felt there was a great deal which could be released in 
Jim. This became more apparent in rehearsals. All the 
casting was dependent on how the rehearsals went, as 
I hadn't had anyone read — no one was replaced. 

Probably the most controversial move I made in 
casting was putting my own roommate from school. 
Anne, in the film to play herself. This move was based 
on her impact as a documentary element of the film as 
well as her character. I felt that the additional layer of 
reality this added would reinforce the others in the 
film. Also, her extraordinary personality and humor 
had saved me that year, and to find an actress who 
could play that would have been impossible. And her 
personal feelings about that year became an impor- 
tant element of the film, for she totally expressed the 
pain resulting from non-communication in adoles- 

I needed one SAG actor, an older man. I found 
SAG very cooperative, as the AFI (who gave me a 
grant for the film) has an understanding with them. 
The actor worked under the 150% deferral deal. 
What did become clear to me is the necessity for even 

more cooperation between low-budget filmmakers 
and SAG, as many kinds of low-budget production 
are still almost impossible. 

To further make the film a combination of reality 
and fiction, the script was built out of the experiences 
of every member of the cast. All of us reminisced and 
improvised until the script was completely con- 
structed. This expanded the script beyond simply my 
own experience. The greatest limitation on the script, 
aside from not being able to afford an established 
scriptwriter, was insufficient rehearsal time because I 
couldn't pay the actors. They were all holding down 
other jobs and we had a terrible time getting together. 
For non-film-experienced actors and directors, re- 
hearsal time is essential, and I'll never skimp on that 


The film never would have been launched if it 
weren't for Jan Saunders. An experienced production 
manager is absolutely central to a fiction production, 
and doubly so on a low-budget production. Everything 
must be planned. Because we were trying to save 
money, we found certain things took more time, and 
all of this had to be taken into consideration. The 
competency and commitment of the camera persons, 
Don Lenzer and Fred Murphy; soundperson, Maryte 
Kavaliauskas; and gaffer, Nancy Schreiber, were also 
major factors in the success of production. 

One financial note— we used 7247. To compensate 
for the high contrast, we chem-toned the entire film, 
which costs more. In addition, I would guess that we 
spent a good extra hour to three hours lighting every 
major set than we would have spent in lighting 7254. 
This kiqd of production time turns into real expense. 

One of the biggest problems and limitations of a 
low budget is not being able to have a set or moving 
cameras on dollies. The whole way of shooting the 
film is more limited. The scenes are broken down into 
shorter takes and often into closer shots. Now, even 
actors experienced in film would find this difficult, 
but they would have an easier time compensating for 
the resulting disruption of their performances. With 
inexperienced film actors, it only further inhibits and 
breaks up their concentration. This is the double 
burden on the actors and director in a low-budget 
film. The director bears the responsibility of seeing 
the consistency of the performances and maintaining 
the pace and flow. Also, an audience is used to seeing 
films with longer, fluid takes and more medium and 
long shots. Therefore, they experience a film shot 
under these conditions as uneven and more claustro- 
phobic, and any jolt in a performance stands out even 

Because the production of Not a Pretty Picture was 
so well organized, 1 was really directing for the first 
time. I had time to work with the actors on set and 
had time to deal with all of the last-minute details and 
specific acting problems that came up. The latter were 
usually a result of the actors' diverse working patterns 
or personality conflicts. 

Low-budget films are usually shot on location and 
shooting at exterior locations is a real hassle; at 
different times we found ourselves surrounded by 
hundreds of people we weren't prepared to handle, in 
the middle of a knife fight, and on a major bus route. 
Shooting was halted by the arrival of a number of fire 
engines, and at another time, by a Mr. Softee truck 
that wouldn't go away. 

At first the waiting was very hard for all the actors. 
I had fried to prepare them for it. I also let them know 
the framing of the shots and why they had to move in 
certain ways. My feeling is that they are professionals 
and they need to know all the tools of the trade that 
they are working in. The cast and crew on this film 
were unusually close and very cooperative and re- 
spectful of each other. That made the production of 

continued on page 28 

Independent GAZETTE/Jufy. 1976/5 

Making Friends 
with Super-8 

by Mark Mikolas 

Mark Mikolas is co-owner of Super-8 Film Croup, a 
production company, and co-author, with Gunther 
Hoos. of a handbook on all phases of Super-8. 

In March of 1974, four of us left for Memphis, 
Tennessee, to film a tradition of fife and drum music 
still being carried on by several rural Blacks in the 
Memphis area, all over 65 years old. There was a 
feeling that this disappearing form of music should be 
recorded whether the venture would pay for itself or 
not. We packed three cameras, a stereo recorder, a 
sync recorder, a lighting kit, a fluid-head tripod, a 
shoulder pod, repair kit, eight hours of film stock, 30 
hours of recording tape and all accessories — in the 
boot of a Toyota! 

We travelled around western Tennessee and the 
fields of Arkansas for over two weeks, filming. When 
we returned, we had all of our film processed and 
workprinted and began editing. A month later we had 
completed our first film, Tell The Angels. 
documenting some real "down home" Blues played by 
Cleo Williamson and her friends and relatives. 

The total costs— including all expenses for the trip, 
all stock, tape, processing and workprint (eight hours' 
worth), resolving, editing, conforming and answer 
print — came to under $3,000! 
How? In super 8. 

Super 8? Home movies? Well, not exactly. Quietly 
and steadily, this modest little medium has developed 
to the point where there is nothing that can be done in 
film that can't be done with "spaghetti." What's more 
important, you can own every necessary piece of 
equipment for complete double-system production for 
as little as $2,500. From then on. you are truly an 
independent filmmaker. You can make any film you 
want for nothing but the cost of stock and labs. And 
in super 8, this is one-half to one-third the price it 
would be in 16mm. 

The basic super 8 sync system revolves around one 
recorder which uses super 8 magnetic fullcoat. It 
syncs to a digital pulse, making virtually every 
off-the-shelf super 8 camera a sync camera with no 
modification. It can sync to a pulse from a super 8 
projector, giving you interlock capability. It can sync 
to pilotone or AC line and can be used with a 16mm 
camera with a pilotone generator or in sync with any 
16mm dubbing equipment of video chains. It has a 
built-in crystal control. Many super 8 cameras can be 
crystal controlled for $200, giving you a crystal 
system. The recorder also puts out a 60Hz signal for 
transfer to VS" tape. With a four-track recorder, 
several small equalizers and a mixing board, you can 
do your own multiple sync-track mixing. After 
making the master track, the recorder can by synched 
to the projector and the track transferred to the 
magnetic stripe on original or prints. The Super8 
Sound Recorder, of which we are speaking, costs $645 
and requires no modification or accessories to do all of 
the above. 

Want to get fancy? The Uher 134 can be purchased 
with a crystal sync generator for stereo sync recording. 
With a little customizing, the sync track can be left in 
tack and end up with channel two recorded on the 
balance stripe of super 8 film and it can be played 
back on a stereo super 8 projector. The magnetic 
stripe, by the way, has a frequency response of 40 - 
12,000Hz, travels at 4 ips and can surpass the quality 
of 16mm optical tracks. ■ 

A single-system camera with an unexaggerated 
frequency response of 50 - 12,000Hz with a 57dB S/N 
ratio can be had for under $2,000. Or how about a 
camera with a 6-66mm Schneider zoom, powered at a 
continuously variable rate from two to twelve seconds 
over its full focal length range, running at 

continuously variable rates from 2 - 70 fps with 
macro-focusing capability down to its front element, 
in-camera dissolve capability, fade control, automatic 
or manual exposure, interchangeable lenses, double- 
system or crystal control capability and which weighs 
about the same and costs about one-half of an Eclair 
200' magazine? 

Lenses? How about a 2.5mm? Or a 6 - 80mm zoom 
(equivalent to about a 12 - 160mm lens in 16mm). Or 
attach your 400mm Nikon lens, which on a super 8 
camera is about the same effective focal length as a 
2000mm lens on your still camera. For $5,500 you can 
purchase a ten-plate horizontal table with two picture 
heads that does everything a Steenbeck does . . . and 
more. (Or if you have a Kern, buy super 8 modules to 
convert it for super 8 use.) 

But equipment is just tools. What about making 

The designation "super 8" refers to the film width, 
8mm, and the sprocket hole size and position. Beyond 
that, we are talking about a highly diverse field of film 
endeavors. In fact, in our attempt to characterize that 
world, we have had to define it by its diversity. Super 8 
has brought the capability to shoot film to almost 
everyone. By doing so, everyone has gone off to make 
films for whatever reason, motivation, yearning or 
craziness that drives them. Neither Kodak, the 
professionals, the magazines, the equipment industry, 
the funding syndrome, the universities nor the film 
clubs have much influence over the uses for super 8 
filmmaking which people are discovering for 
themselves. Even traditional 16mm and 35mm film- 
makers find in low-cost super 8 a medium which 
allows them free reign to use film in applications that 
never made financial sense before. 

A kid in New Jersey built a rocket around his super 
8 camera and obtained footage of the shot up and the 
parachute down. This footage found its way into 
network broadcast many times as the opening shot of 
a filler. Maria Schneider, apart from acting in 
Bertolucci's 1900. bought a super 8 camera and made 
her own film about Bertolucci. From the rapids of 
Bhutan to the schools of Red China, from amateur 
horror features (shot in super 8 "CinemaScope" 
2.66:1) to some of the most avant of avant-garde in 
filmmaking — no longer does one need to wait 
(perhaps forever) for that $100,000 grant. 

Imagine being able to shoot anything you want for 
as little as $1.60/min.! You can shoot about 50 hours 
of film for the price of one year's tuition in film 
school. Which sounds like the better way to learn 
cinematography? And speaking of film schools, if 
that's your route, do you need 16mm to learn camera- 
work? sound recording? production planning? direc- 
tion? editing? mixing? budgeting? In short, film- 
making? As long as schools are tied to 16mm (and one 
camera and recorder for each six students), the equip- 
ment sign-out list is the biggest obstacle to learning 
filmmaking. The university could equip everyone with 
super 8 sync gear for the full term on the same budget. 
And there would always be editing table space avail- 
able. Every technique of standard film production 
could be taught and practiced. And, perhaps what's 
most important, graduates could go on making films 
after graduation, rather than weighing the merits of 
an Arri versus Eclair while pounding the streets and 
writing proposals and waiting for Unemployment 
checks. In fact, universities can teach super 8 film- 
making to students in all disciplines whose needs for 
data gathering, recording and documentation in later 

careers will necessitate an increasingly greater sophis- 
tication in media technology. 

Super 8 can be contact printed, mass release 
printed through an internegative, blown up to 16mm, 
transferred to all video formats, broadcast, front- 
projected or rear-projected and screened larger than 
most independent theaters can handle (using one of 
several models of arc and xenon projectors). What will 
the quality be? 
Basically, what you make it. 
Optical printing is possible, even full immersion 
liquid gate, but the super 8 filmmaker cannot rely on 
it without eating up most of his savings in the costs. 
Color correction? None. Fast original stocks without 
grain? No. Shooting super 8 at its ultimate quality is a 
unique challenge to the ambitious filmmaker. In no 
other medium does the end product depend so much 
on the original lighting and camerawork. Most 
sophisticated effects are best devised and executed 
in-camera. The super 8 filmmaker is a filmmaker. 
Everything but processing and printing is in his or her 

One rough guideline we have found: small 
budgets — small equipment — intimate films — small 
audiences: the true medium of personal filmmaking. 
Sell it to the networks? Deliver an enhanced, elec- 
tronically color-corrected 2" Quad tape and they'll 
never question its filmic origin, even if that original 
was pushed EF. 

Color video is portable and so is 16mm. But 
camerapersons rapidly realize the difference between 
being able to take it with you and, with super 8, to 
have it with you. 

Commercial possibilities? Everyone in the world 
who has use for film but has not been able to afford it. 
The investment: a little money and lots of time. 
Got a feature in mind? Shoot the pilot in super 8. 
Trying to document a process with a still camera 
and a tape recorder? Turn them in for a super 8 
single-system camera (with money to spare to start 

Got a client who can't afford a film this year? Sell 
him super 8 and make more of a profit on the job than 
you did in 16mm. 

The film you always dreamed of making: what's 
stopping you? 

988... click 

989 .. . East on one . . . click 

990 . . . East on one, West on two . . . click 

991 .. . East on one. West on two, up on one . . . click 

992 . . . East on one. West on two, up on one, BG- A . . . 

993. . .East on one, I'm an artist . . .I'm an artist. . . 

994. . .East on one. West on two, up on one, BG-A, 

BG-B... click 

6 /July, 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 


An Interview with Joan Shigekawa 

Interviewed by Ted Churchill 
Transcription and editing by Tom McDonough 

C: Tell me about the genesis of Woman Alive/ and 
how you were involved in it. 

S: I was freelancing as an independent producer. I 
guess it was the summer of 1973, and what happened 
was, I got a call on my answering service — call Ronnie 
Eldridge at MS. Magazine. So I called her back, and 
it turned out they were interviewing producers and 
someone had given her my name. Would I come and 
talk with them; they were going to do an hour version 
of Ms. Magazine for national public television. 

I went to talk with them ; they asked to see my work. 
I screened my sample reel for the people at Ms. and 
their collaborators, KERA, the Dallas public tele- 
vision station. 

At the same time, a whole lot of other people were 
going in and talking to them. We would run into each 
other lugging our films past the switchboard. We 
would try to share information with each other, 
because for a long time we didn't hear anything. 
Eventually, after a month and a half, they offered me 
the job, which was fantastic, because it was exactly 
the kind of thing I wanted to do at that time. 

C: Whatwas it about your background that got you 
the job? 

S: I've been trying to figure that out since I started 
the show. You always wonder when you're just ano- 
ther name in the hopper. I still don't really know. 

I'd been working since 1960 in film and television. 
My first New York job was as a secretary at CBS. 
There I was, right out of Bryn Mawr College and 
I was thrilled. I was really sort of dim about it. The 
Women's Movement hadn't really started. The other 
day a woman asked me, "Did you always want to 
be a producer?" I had to tell her that when I started 
working, it never occurred to me that I could be a 
producer, because I would look around CBS and I 
didn't see any women producers. There were women 
who were forty year old production assistants, and 
that was the kind of job I wanted to have. It didn't 
occur to me that all the young men who were already 
production assistants were planning their careers as 
producers and directors, following all the men execu- 
tive producers into the men's room and all that stuff. 
The way I managed to work my way through it and 
out of it was by switching jobs. I left the job at CBS 
and went over to NBC as a secretary on the Today 
Show. Then I worked as field director of admissions at 
Barnard, and after that I went back to CBS News as a 
researcher. By not staying in one place, I was able to 
get varied experience and move up. 

Then two friends of mine got a chance to do ten 
half-hour films about the circus for $75,000 — ten 
films for $7500 apiece, and they wanted me to go in 
with them. That was 1963. I knew there was going to 
be a lot of work, and that the money obviously was 
going to be minimal. I asked them for an associate 
producer's credit, because that was the job I'd be 
doing. They were taken aback, but I got my first 
associate producer's credit. 

Joan Shigekawa is a member of the A1VF and has 
worked for fifteen years in film, television, and theat- 
rical productions. She is currently the producer of 
WOMAN ALIVE!, a National Public Television series 
produced at WNET in collaboration with Ms. Maga- 

I went on to do my first producing job at WNET, 
doing an hour weekly cultural magazine, videotape in 
the studio. And then I went to PBL, worked on 
dramas and theater. I did a lot of different things and 
learned a lot of different jobs. 

One of the things that women can do that's harder 
for men is to slip back and forth between categories. If 
a woman has been a producer for, say, ten years, and 
there's an opening for an associate producer, she can 
go get that job if she's out of work. Whereas a man 
can't because he'd be embarrassed and would be an 
embarrassment to other men. A couple of years ago, 
while I was raising money for Woman Alive! I got a 
call from a network about an associate producer's job. 
They'd hired a producer — a man who'd been a net- 
work sales executive but wasn't that strong in produc- 
tion. They knew they'd need a strong associate pro- 
ducer. So they were interviewing women who were 
already producers. That's all job kind of stuff, and 
that's television. 

C: How was Woman Alive! a different production 
experience? Was there something special about get- 
ting the series done? 

S: For the pilot, Susan Lester was the writer/as- 
sociate producer and Sarah Stein was the editor. We 
had all had experience working in television bureau- 
cracies and working as independents. But what was 
special was the chance to work with an all-woman film 
crew on a feminist project designed for television. And 
working with the women at Ms. Magazine was spe- 
cial — to have that feeling of excitement and real 
support. For the series, we tried to experiment with 
some of the usual ways of doing things. Take, for 
example, the line production jobs. We already had 
200 resumes on file. We answered all of them. Usual- 
ly, sending in a resume is like throwing it against a 
stone wall; nobody ever calls you back, nobody ever 
tells you if it's any good. You just have to stare at the 
phone and work up your nerve to make the follow-up 
call. Another thing we decided to do was to not give 
away staff jobs before we had interviewed people. 
More than a hundred people at WNET applied for a 
job. Once you're committed to interviewing, you have 
to stay with it and give everyone an equal chance. We 
didn't interview anyone from the outside; we felt that 
women within WNET were starved for promotion and 
should have the first crack. The double whammy — 
and I was very naive about this — is that if you talk to 
100 people about four jobs, 96 people are going to be 

And the same was true of the filmmakers. There 
were more than a hundred women filmmakers who 

called from the New York area alone. One of our 
priorities was that as many women as possible should 
benefit from this very small amount of money. We 
really made a committment to the women in the 
independent film community and we saw about seven- 
ty-five people. During pre-production, we were 
screening sample films till eleven o'clock night after 
night. Throwing the doors open that way to a com- 
munity which is not really a television community — 
when what you're doing is a television program — led 
to a lot of confusion. Some people thought it was like 
a grant thing: money to make a film. But actually it 
was a television series that had a point of view, and 
within that point of view, certain things were "giv- 
ens". If you didn't agree with that point of view, you 
really should do film for a different series. One of the 
givens is that women are changing; another one of the 
givens is that people don't understand that change, 
and finally, that the media stereotype of what the 
Women's Movement is all about is very narrow and 

C: Can you elaborate on that? 

S: One of the things about seeing women on tele- 
vision — when you see them at all — is that you're 
seeing a bad stereotype. Forty percent of American 
women work. If you look at television commercials, 
you'd think American women spend seventy-five per- 
cent of their time in the bathroom, and only about 
seven percent of them work. In a study by the United 
Methodist Church, you find that women are only 
about thirty percent of the images in dramatic series 
in prime time, that they are incapable of making 
decisions on their own, and they're just part of a 
support system. Very rarely do they actually supervise 
other people. In commercial television, nearly all the 
women are young. Men can be any age. With a few 
exceptions, like Maude, the women are young. 
There's a whole thing about selling products and 
structuring shows around young women who are 
considered to be more attractive and also have more 
buying power. Men in these prime time dramas are 
concerned with big issues, with their careers. Women 
are concerned with domestic issues, romance, getting 
a man and keeping him. That stereotype prevails in 
all media. 

The same is true in news. There was a study done by 
the American Association of University Women in 
'74; the statistics are staggering. They monitored a 
month of network news. In straight news stories, in 
over 5,000 stories, only 5P0 or so were about women. 
Of the number of reporters — there were about 
2,400 — there were 253 women. Of the women that 
were featured, they often were politicians' wives or 
victims of disasters. The television image of what 
women are about is extremely skewed. Commercials 
are the easiest target, but the thing that's really 
distressing is that the same distortion holds true in 
news and public affairs. 

What we wanted to do in Woman Alive! was to 
break through that stereotype and show real women 
and what their lives were all about. All the films in the 
series had that point of view — real women in the 
process of change, or in the process of looking into 
their lives. We tried to go and talk to women that 
nobody in television ever talked to. 

We felt in the course of producing Woman Alive! 
an enormous pressure to come in on budget, because 

Independent GAZETTE /July. 1976/7 

there's still this stereotype that women can't handle 
money, that women will squander money on foolish 
things, go to Saks and blow the budget on a new hat. 
It doesn't matter how many times women come in on 
budget — and we did come in on time and on budget — 
there's still that stereotype. You're doubly, triply 
scrutinized from all sides. The same was true for 
blacks for a long time, still is true to some extent. If a 
black show went over budget, they'd say, "Look at 
that, they really are irresponsible." If a man goes over 
budget, however, you don't hear anyone saying that 
men don't know how to handle money. 

Some filmmakers came to us with ideas that were 
very promising, but they were $20,000 ideas, or 
$30,000 ideas, and we had to say no, because we had 
only $16,000 for each twenty minute segment. 

One thing to remember is that this series started out 
as twelve one-hour specials at a budget in excess of 
two million dollars, an adequately funded program 
that would have three or four film segments— little 
ones, big ones — twelve times four is forty-eight films. 
We ended up making ten films. Instead of twelve 
hours of magazine programming, we ended up with 
five — ten half hours, and on a production budget that 
was less than $400,000. 

C: How long did it take you to find funding for the 
series? Why did you have problems? 

S: In looking back on the production of Woman 
Alive.' I realize that of the three years spent in making 
the pilot and trying to fund the series, only ten months 
were actually spent in making films and tapes. The 
rest was either spent trying to get money, writing 
proposals or freelancing on other jobs. Increasingly, 
public television is becoming dependent on ratings 
and outside money — on business. And I don't think 
that's a very cheerful omen for the future of those of 
us who want to do documentaries or experimental 

We began by thinking that any company inter- 
ested in the way women were changing would be 
interested in underwriting this program. We were 

As time went on, and we went trucking around 
from corporation to corporation with our proposal, we 
kept hearing, we'll pass on this. When they say to you 
"Good luck," you know it's all over. Most of the 
people who are corporate vice-presidents in charge of 
public relations, they don't really want to rock the 
boat. They're in business to make the company look 

The first thing we encountered was real suspicion 
about the Women's Movement. Corporations have a 
lot of money invested in a certain image of women. 
Their commercials tell us what they think we are. 
They don't really want to be confronted with the 
change that's happening. 

We also heard from off the record friends that 
corporations are shy of funding public affairs pro- 
grams. The corporations understand that you can't do 
a documentary about how women are changing with- 
out questioning things like the actuarial tables of 
insurance companies, why women have trouble get- 
ting credit, and job discrimination. Those are the 
things that women are trying to change, and they're 
also the things that business is about. We were talking 
about public affairs documentaries, and they would 
ask us, "Could we see the scripts for the films before 
they're shot?" We would say, "Well, there is no 
script. It's a documentary and we go out to explore. 
We can't give you a script before the film is shot and 
edited." That wa.s unacceptable. 

Also a lot of corporations are not giving equal pay 
for equal work to women in their companies, and if 
they pretend that these inequities don't exist, just play 
possum, maybe the problem will go away, or at least 
they can stave it off. But if they show by sponsoring 
our series that they understand that they're vulnera- 
ble, then the women in their companies might really 
come after them. 

Those were some of the reasons. Obviously, some of 
the people legitimately didn't like the first special, but 

those are some of the underlying political reasons for 
not funding the program. 

If you look at what is funded, you find that a great 
deal of it is acquisitions, BBC acquisitions, programs 
that a corporation can iook at in advance and decide 
whether or not it's safe for them. Or cultural pro- 
grams — dance, music. But very few public affairs 
programs are funded by corporations. 

So in the end what happened was that a one-hour 
magazine shrank to a half-hour magazine, and twelve 
hour programs shrank to ten half-hours. There was 
always a maybe-promise from the Corporation for 
Public Broadcasting for $400,000, pending support 
from other sources. After months of trying for other 
sources, we trimmed the concept to fit the available 
funds. After getting rejected and rejected and reject- 
ed, we could think of only one way to save the 
situation, and that was a half-hour magazine. 

C: You mentioned before that over 100 women film- 
makers applied to Women Alive! from the New York 
area alone. It must have been difficult to decide who 
got to make films for the series. 

S: We had to deal with limitations at every turn. 
When we were ready to go into production, a lot of 
people who were used to making TV films came in 
and said, "Tell me what you want me to do, I'll do it." 
But we weren't making assignments; we were trying to 
have a dialogue between two creative parties, to evolve 
a concept in which both the independent filmmakers 
and the programmers might have a common ground, 
a common understanding of what the project would 
be, and that's intuitive. Some people came in with 
ideas that they thought we would like rather than 
ideas that they were excited about making a film 
about. And you could always tell. You could tell this 
was something they might be interested in doing, but 
as a job of work, not as a film they thought ought to be 
made. There was so much work and so little money 
that unless you really cared about the film you were 
making, it would be very hard to pull it off. We had a 
list of maybe eighty ideas that we wanted to explore, 
but we weren't assigning ideas. Someone would come 
in, we'd talk back and forth until we came up with 
something that we were really excited about. 

Later on, geography became very important. Wo- 
men are struggling to change all over the country; we 
couldn't just go on the air with nine films about New 
York City women and one from Oklahoma, Also, 
there's a tendency to replicate yourself, to replicate 

your own age group in your choice of subject. At a 
certain point we realized we didn't have anything to 
represent teenagers or older women. In the beginning, 
it was wide open. Later on, the options for filmmakers 
diminished. We felt we had in these ten programs to 
cover a fairly wide spectrum. 

There's something that, if you're an independent 
and you're used to working by yourself, is hard to 
understand, and that is often ten people will come up 
with the same idea. Ten years ago, for example, no 
one was thinking about making films about parents, 
grandparents — roots. Then about two years ago, you 
look around and a lot of people, through no conscious 
agreement, decided that it would be interesting to 
look at these things; it's just something that's in the 

The same is true for films about women. Until you 
see maybe sixty proposals in a stack, it's hard to 
understand what's going on. Many people who were 
concerned three or four years ago about doing docu- 
mentary and political films are now concerned about 
doing fiction films and working with actors, using the 
dramatic form. That's not anything that anybody 
dictated; it's just that it's time to try that. 

One of the things about having a dialogue with that 
many people is that there are bound to be a lot of 
people disappointed, and who don't, who can't under- 
stand how the choices were made. The decisions were 
made partly on an understanding of independent film 
production and money, and an understanding of the 
person's prior work. But it was very complicated. 
Sometimes the idea, though it was marvelous, was not 
right for the series within the parameters of the 
proposals, or the idea required more money than we 
had — or, again, geography. Sometimes an idea isn't 
really a twenty minute film idea. Sometimes it's not 
even something you can articulate. I went through this 
quandary about how to get the word out, because 
there's this kind of paranoia about who knows what. 
We try to be a community, but there is this paranoia 
about jobs and assignments, sharing information or 
not sharing information. But when a hundred film- 
makers can find you, it's no secret. We set up an 
elaborate system of screening films; more than one 
person would screen each film; people shared their 
notes. We also at the same time built an enormous 
talent file of women technicians from all over the 

8 /July, 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 


For you Film is only a show. 

For me it is almost a way to look at the world. 

Film is a vehicle for movements. 

Film is an innovator in literature. 

Film is a destroyer of aesthetics. 

Film is fearless. 

Film is a sportsman. 

Film is a disperser of ideas. 

But Film is sick. Capitalism has covered its eye with gold. 

Dexterous entrepreneurs lead it down the street by the hand. 

They collect cash by turning over their hearts to pathetic 


This must come to an end. 

Communism must seize Film from profiteering producers. 

Futurism must steam out the numbing water-slowness and morality. 

Without this we will have either the imported tap dance of written b V W Mayakovsky 

America or unbroken 'tearful eyes' of Mosjukhim. appeared in KinoPhot #4, Oct. 5-12, 1922 

The first is tiresome. introduction and translation by Charles Musser 

The second even worse. from Teatri Kino, Vol 2., p. 425, Moscow, 1954 

Kino i Kino (Film and Film) was the poet Maya- 
kovsky's response to a crisis point in Soviet film 
culture. In 1922, five years after the Revolution, 
Soviet film culture was still that of pre-revolutionary 
Russia. Would the Revolution accept the established 
film industry dominated by Hollywood and German 
exports, or would it promote a new cinema in touch 
with the realities of Soviet society7 Mayakovsky's 
political-aesthetic analysis was affirmed over the next 
two years with the emergence of major filmmakers 
like Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin, Kuleshov, Ermler, 
Kozintzev and Trauberg. While the parallels between 
Soviet society of 1922 and American society of today 
are few, an analogy with our position in American 
film culture has definite validity. Can we successfully 
confront the Hollywood pastiche known as com- 
mercial cinema: cops and robbers pictures, violence 
films, and sexploitation movies? Can we make films 
that are in touch with the social and aesthetic realities 
of American life? And what are the objective forces 
that will make this possible? 

C: That's terrific. Working in the industry and 
being involved in the Association as well, I can appre- 
ciate the difficulty in making the decisions you had to 
make. Judging from the shows of Woman Alive.' I 
have seen, I think you made the right ones. What's 
happening with the show this year? 

S: I don't know. This season, our production unit is 
creating four specials. To do a film that takes real 
thought or shaping can take six months or a year. We 
are going to have to try to do them in much less 
time — eight to ten weeks. We'll work this time with a 
central core staff. Jacqueline Donnet is the coordinat- 
ing producer, Janis Klein is the associate producer 
and Ronnie Eldridge is the executive producer. Once 
again, I'll be the producer. These specials will prob- 
bably be the last season for Woman Alive! The 
Corporation for Public Broadcasting will support a 
series for only two seasons and I don't see any 
corporations coming forward with financial support. 
All of this experience — trying to raise money, learning 
about the way the public television system functions 
and the independent world has been an incredible 
education. A lot of it has been very hard, professional- 
ly and personally. It's been a lot of work, much of it 
using up creative energy struggling with bureaucratic 
systems. But sometimes terrific things happen, like 
when the "What's Happening" series at the Museum 
of Modern Art and the Donnell chose to build a 
program around three films from Woman Alive! 

Many AIVF members made major contributions to 
the series and I'd like to acknowledge that with special 
thanks to the filmmakers. 

Independent Films made for WOMAN ALIVE 


A film by Patricia Sides 


A film by Mirra Bank 


A film by Suzanne Jasper 


A film by Abigail Child 


A film by Charlotte Zwerin 


. A film by Vic Losick 


A film by Ellen Hovde 

A film by Bonda E. Lee 


A film by Linda Leeds 


A film by Nina Schulman 






° SAT. JUNE 19 




° $2.50 donation - $2.00 members 




Independent GAZETTE ' 'July. 1976/9 

An Introduction to Video Systems 

Video equipment often seems to change faster than 
the weather, ft seems as if every week a new camera or 
editing deck makes its appearance. The result is an 
often frustrated individual who wants to stay current, 
but can't afford the time or energy. Unfortunately, I 
know of no solution to this problem. Video by its very 
newness invites constant change and upgrading. Since 
it is an electronic medium, its growth keeps pace with 
the latest technological developments in electronics 
such as integrated circuits, solid-state design, etc. 
Electronics, in fact, is probably harder to keep up 
with than video equipment. The reason film does not 
change at such speed is its basically "mechanical" 
(rather than electronic) nature and the fact that it has 
been developing for more than 75 years. In contrast, 
broadcast videotape has only been around about 15 
years, and portable units only about five years. Low- 
cost portable color is only about two years old. Video 
is in its infancy and will go through many changes 
before it matures. 

Within all this change and confusion, however, 
there is a certain amount of stability. Hopefully, this 
article will pinpoint the main components of the 
current video systems. 

The Portapaks 

The first group of equipment is the "portapaks." 
These started the video revolution with the first units 
that were truly portable. There are various types made 
from several different manufacturers such as Sony, 

Alan Miller is a video artist who lives and works in 
New York City. He is a member of the Board of the 

Video by its very newness Invite* constant change 
and upgrading. . .a few yean ago, a color camera for 
under $30,000 was a fantasy. Today they start at 

by Alan Miller 

Panasonic, JVC, Sanyo, Akai, etc. For the purposes 
of this article I will limit discussion to either color or 
color-capable equipment. 

Sony has two color portapaks. One is the AV/8400 
— a l A" reel-to-reel update of the original AV/AVC 
3400 Black and White portapak. They also make the 
AV 3800 — a Va " video cassette portapak. Both decks 
record and play in color. The 3800 has much more 
sophisticated electronics and is superior in quality. 
The 8400 costs about S1400 without the camera. The 
3800 costs about $3000 without the camera. Color 
cameras will be discussed later in the article. The 3800 
is the deck currently being used by TV stations and 
networks around the country for ENG (Electronic 
News Gathering), and is recognized as the best 
around. True to form, Sony has just announced a 
whole new series of V* " decks called "Broadcaster" 
models with substantial improvements, at significant- 
ly higher prices. 

Panasonic and JVC also have Vi " reel-to-reel porta- 
paks in about the same price range as the Sony AV 
8400. This summer JVC will show its new Va" video- 
cassette portapak to rival the Sony 3800. Akai makes 
a l A " reel-to-reel portapak that is very small and light- 
weight, but has a lesser signal due to the smaller tape 
size. Even so, WOR-TV News in New York uses Akai 
exclusively for their ENG. Sanyo makes a Vz" car- 
tridge portapak with superior quality, including four 
video heads for perfect slow-motion, but it is not 
standardized to EIAJ (Electronics Industry of Japan) 
standards and thus is incompatible with other manu- 
facturers' units. 

Vera Chytilova is a Czech New Wave director 
whose film, Daisies (1966), established her interna- 
tional reputation. Unlike her colleagues Milos 
Forman and Ivan Passer, who came to the U.S. to 
continue their work after the Russian invasion of 
Czechoslovakia, Chytilova stayed in her country. 
Since 1969, when she completed Fruits of Paradise, 
which won the Grand Prize at the Chicago Film 
Festival, Czech authorities have prevented her from 
working and have kept her in total isolation from the 
film community. Chytilova was invited to be the 
Special Festival Guest of Honor at the International 
Women's Film Festival held at the American Film 
Institute Theatre, Kennedy Center, in December 
1975, but was prevented from accepting the in- 

Following is a letter we received shortly after the 
festival : 

"Dear friends, dear Ms. Krasilovsky, 

Thank you for the honor which you have con- 
ferred on me. I'm very sorry again that I cannot 
participate in an event which is so important for 
me. Allow me therefore to convey greetings from a 
distance to the festival. I wish better fate for all its 
participants than the one which met me and my 
work. I would be very happy if one could succeed 
in organizing an international group of film 
women which would be capable of independently 
producing films about women. Perhaps then I 
would have some hope. Regardless, I hope that 
perhaps some day we will meet. 

With Greetings, 


Vera Chytilova" 

Please add to our petition drive by writing on her 
behalf to Film Export, Wenceslas Square, Prague, 

Alexis Rafael Krasilovsky, Chairperson 

Film Festival Committee 

International Women's Film Festival 

10 /July, 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 


Lying in bed with a cold, 

barbed wire strapped over my teeth— 

Where is detente? Don't call. 

Vera's far, far away, 

liquidation likewise. 

Love letters on the telephone— 
who remembers them? 
Whereas they computerize 
complete dossiers 
on every crime of creativity. 

I lie with my cheek against my arm 

and think of you — 

your Czechoslovakian body 

tumbling down the aisles 

of adolescent love. 

Here in Memphis, 

we're filming prostitution, the police, 

and politics which hit the whores who talk. 

The press discuss magnolias, 

while I close my eyes 

and see Daisies once again. 

We've exchanged buttered popcorn 

in the drowsy, dim-lit theater, 

and we're waiting for the pimpmobiles 
to shine official headlights 
on the marquee of your face 
your freeze-framed face, 
Hollywood-opening style. 

Alexis Rafael Krasilovsky 

Color Cameras 

Color cameras are probably the fastest growing 
area. If decks appear every six months, then cameras 
seem to appear every week. A few years ago a color 
camera for under $30,000 was a fantasy. Today they 
start at $1900 and go all the way to $100,000 plus. 
This article will explore the less expensive (and more 
accessible) ones. Generally, the rule that you get what 
you pay for applies. The picture quality and colorimi- 
try of the more expensive cameras is just superior to 
that of the cheaper ones. However, several of the mid- 
range cameras give excellent response within their 
limits. The Sony DXC 1600 for about $5000 is very 
good. It does have one major flaw, a tendency to lag 
slightly when panned or tilted. Its plus is a built-in 
image enhancer for sharper pictures. The JVC and 
Panasonic are slightly cheaper and do not appear 
quite as sharp. The Akai, Magnavox, GBC and 
Concord are cheaper still and perform according to 
form. At the other end of the price spectrum are the 
$20,000 to $30,000 cameras like the Ferseh, Ikegami, 
Asaka, and RCA. They all perform very well and are 
the cameras most often used by network and local 
stations. It must be emphasized that many stations 
are using the Akai, Sony and JVC. 

An article like this wouldn't seem right without the 
latest news in cameras. One is that JVC will preview a 
new camera for under $10,000. Hitachi (Shibaden) 
has shown a new camera that weighs only 6.6 pounds 
complete, fits in a small suitcase, has no external 
CCU (camera control unit) and has what appears to 
be excellent response. It looked as good as the Sony 
DXC 1600 at a recent trade show and will cost $1000 
less. The most exciting new development, however, is 
the Toshiba three-tube Chalnicon, backpackless 
camera priced at about $12,000. It weighs about 16 
pounds, is shoulder-mounted like a film camera, and 
can shoot at 20 footcandles. This camera has features 
that until recently were only found in the $20-30,000 


The next major area is editing and editing equip- 
ment. Editing equipment, spurred on by ENG re- 
quirements, has become very sophisticated. There are 
several different levels and price ranges of editing 
equipment. I will not limit my coverage to hardware 
prices alone, because a discussion of time-rental costs 
is more applicable to the majority of people. At the 
top of the line is "quad" or 2" editing. To use this 
type of system you would have to time-base correct 
your Vi " or 3 A " original to quad. At the same time a 
SMPTE timecode would be encoded on the tape. This 
would give a visual readout analogous to film frame 
numbers. Then edit points can be pinpointed by the 
frame. The duping and timecode costs run about $100 
an hour. Quad decks have the advantage of superior 
signal and the ability to do special effects such as 
fades, dissolves, tilting, etc. Most other systems will 
only perform straight cuts. Quad time is very expen- 
sive and runs approximately $225 an hour. 

In conjunction with quad editing is the CMX 
systems. There is "on-line" and "off-line" CMX 
editing. "On-line" refers to using quad machines. 
"Off-line is done on 3 A " cassette machines. The CMX 
system is a computer system that works on the 
SMPTE time code to perform all editing functions. 
The end product of CMX editing is a punched 
computer tape of the "menu" (edit order, type and 
length). It is possible to go back to the middle and 
change an edit length or sequence, and the computer 
will then adjust all the other edits accordingly in 
order. After working in the cheaper "off-line" method 
($75/hour + time code of V* " originals), the punch 
tape can then be brought to an "on-line" system. The 
"on-line" quad system will then deliver a quad master 
exactly as the punch tape indicates. Therefore, as 






75 Horatio Street, New York, N.Y. 10014 

Tel. 212-989-8366 


1 . The Association is an organization of and for 
independent video and filmmakers. 

2. The Association encourages excellence, 
commitment and independence; it stands 
for the principle that video and filmmaking is 
more than just a job, that it goes beyond 
economics to involve the expression of broad 
human values. 

3. The Association works, through the com- 
bined efforts of the membership, to provide 
practical, informational, and moral support 
for independent video and filmmakers and is 

dedicated to insuring the survival and pro- 
viding support for the continuing growth of 
independent video and filmmaking. 

4. The Association does not limit its support to 
one genre, ideology, or aesthetic, but fur- 
thers diversity of vision in artistic and social 

5. The Association champions independent 
video and film as valuable, vital expressions 
of our culture and is determined to open, by 
mutual action, pathways toward exhibition 
of this work to the community at large. 


Regular Membership is open to any person who is 1) involved or 
actively seeking involvement in independent video or filmmaking 
and 2) is committed to the principles of the Association. 

Yearly dues for the Association are $10.00. New members pay a 
one-time-only $5.00 membership fee. The membership fee and dues 
for new members in 1976 total $15.00. Those who join after Septem- 
ber 1, 1976 pay $10.00. All memberships are renewable on January 
1, 1977. 

Supporting Membership comes with a contribution of $100.00 or 
more; Sustaining Membership with a contribution of $250.00. 

Membership entitles you to receive our monthly mailing as well as 
other reports prepared for distribution. 

Mailing List Only: $7.50 for New York City resident individuals; 
$5.00 for individuals living outside New York City and all institu- 
tions, irrespective of geographic location. 


75 Horatio Street, New York, N.Y. 10014 - Phone 212-989-8366 

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City, State, Zip _ 

If applicable: 
Business Name., 


City, State, Zip_ 

Membership: O Regular □ Supporting D Sustaining 
Professional skills and specialties: 

What do you feel is the most important thing the Association can 
accomplish for you? 

I hereby apply for membership in the Association of Independent 
Video and Filmmakers, Inc., being qualified for the category of 
membership I have indicated. 


Independent GAZETTE / July. 1976/11 

In the Beginning 

The first plans to create an association for inde- 
pendent film and video people were hatched in the 
summer of 1973. With the support of the Center for 
Understanding Media, Ed Lynch spent nearly six 
months organizing before holding the first meeting in 
January 1974. 

Below are some excerpts from the monthly news- 
letter of the Association. 

February 4, 1974 

The first meeting was good: nearly 70 film- 
makers, with no illusions as to the difficulty, a 
general willingness to work, and an eagerness to get 
started. It was the first step toward association- 
sharing a part of the struggle for survival as working 
independent filmmakers. The meeting showed wil- 
lingness and general agreement. 

August 12, 1974 

The newly incorporated Association of Indepen- 
dent Video and Filmmakers, after several months of 
planning and organizational work, held its first 
official membership meeting on July 25. The 125 
charter members adopted by-laws and principles of 
the Association and elected a seven-member Board 
of Directors. The principles of the Association cen- 
ter on providing "practical, informational, and moral 
support for independent video and filmmakers," 
encouraging "diversity of vision," and working for 
acceptance of independent film and video as "valua- 
ble and vital expressions of our culture". The mem- 
bers have joined together in the conviction that the 
practical problem of survival as an independent 
video or filmmaker is not one of craft. The problem 
is a combination of the character of the industry and 
the independent's isolation from, or distaste for, the 
conventional processes of funding and marketing. 
November 7, 1974 

Our basic position is that 

the AFI does not represent the film community, and, 
therefore, we are opposed to the bill to financially 
renew it. 

December 8, 1974 

It is almost the end of our first year. We have 
defied the critics and skeptics who have said that 
independent filmmakers were either too crazy or too 
selfish to get together and agree on anything. And 
we are being heard. Artists who have never worked 
together before may have a little more difficulty in 
the beginning. But after all, it is just the beginning. 
January 9, 1975 

We have had our victories. As most of you know, 
the bill to create a "new" American Film Institute 
was defeated. Perhaps we will have part of the credit 
for the defeat of the bill, but that is not the most 
important point. During the evolution of the fight, it 
became clear that there is a community of film- 
makers, videomakers, educators, film librarians, 
museum administrators and other dedicated indi- 
viduals who would work together to stop bad legis- 

April 11, 1975 

I think that each of us understands, and always 
has, that we could use all of our precious time and 
energy selfishly, for our own individual survival. 
Then what, in the name of all funding sources are 
we doing? I say, JUST THAT. Surviving. The dif- 
ference is in the character of that survival. We want 
to work with a new sense of community. 
May 16, 1975 

We are about to begin our second summer and the 
difference between the two seasons, in the latest 
lingo, is a quantum leap. Last year at this time we 
were planning our legal birth. This year we have 
three hundred members and have had two festivals, 
ten presentations, many meetings and screenings! 

During the last year I stopped holding my breath. 
The Association is no longer in my imagination or 
yours. It is no longer fragile. We can take a moment 
to look around, tend our various gardens, hold 
hands with our new friends. 

12 /July. 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

Indie Filmmakers In Fear 
Of 'Educators' Riding tree 

ts, /u.0 °l «W" Video |„ m . and **»W» '" """" 

2i™ -- Wednesday, April »,1"° 

e K.Uon.l Education «"».»• 
alcmcnl ot support lor d* oduca- 
in exemption amendment, Mio 
J, Sector!, «.«• W PJJP*, 

Anti-Oscar Night In Gotham; 
Hand Out Own 'Indies' Prizes 


>.< u a ,oii 90 m comoleUAR Organism, his imy- 
On Oscar nighl March KP 10 ™3^" / swdv cI N e » York 

ass ;wskSK sr-srs, a -— 

\ in New YorK siagtu "J '-"j . - 
er-Oscar event, complete funis 
■' dancing and various 

Cain Divided 

AJischuier A 

ard of 

Why Congress Said No 
To the Film Institute 

'""'"'bl' fn*n , 


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, 8 1 ttie.ien • '< ™f, ti i Bend". 

• ,1,, moi emcm->' N « 

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»C. I 



December li.75 


by Judith McNslly 

.1 Hint 


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nasalwavs faced an unusual difficult 

prciall» m I tie vision, Thtateo bud ne 

,ing. but uleviiion, once thought to be an ouili 

,ied potential for the independent, has prove 

Jownriihi hostile, to surh work*. 

i new feature on (h* generally bleak landscape 

ned Independent Cinema Artist, and Produce 

irofit distribution company working exclusive 

TV as on oullei lor independent. lilmmakei 

i»lh r>( the Independent Video Artists 

;s usel! as "n unique effort to bring ihi 

re uwelheilnr the benefit of both " In I 

representative to, cable T\ 
provided he is willing to 
,> copyrights All sub- 
s. produced within the 
accepted only in 16mm with sound 
is Mini her requirement acturdinp 10 

I inlnnce 01 

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hough M- Morgan expressed the hoot' lhal > 
uld relax iheir requirements to include other 
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Indies Present Indies 


Photographs by Randall Hagadorn. 

Most Americans, if they remember March 29, 1976 
at all, will remember it as the night when Elizabeth 
Taylor led the nation in her rousing version of "Amer- 
ica the Beautiful," when people in 18th-century cos- 
tumes performed the Bump on a rotating stage, and 
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest swept the Academy 

On that same night, however, the Association held 
its first annual Awards Ceremony. Two hundred and 
fifty film and video artists jammed the Fifth Avenue 
Hotel to honor each other's work and publicly recog- 
nize our common aspirations. It was a rare and warm 

The enthusiasm and financial support of Dan 
Sandberg of TVC Labs was the first catalyst for 
planning the evening. Late in 1975, he approached 
the Association with the idea of creating the R.W. 
Altschuler Award (named after his late friend and 
predecessor at TVC Labs) for excellence in indepen- 
dent filmmaking. A balloting of the Association mem- 
bership yielded two winners who tied in a vote for the 
"person who contributed the most to independent 
film in 1975"; Victoria Hochberg and George Griffin 
shared the $500.00 award. With awards and winners, 
a celebration was an inevitable next step. 

Victoria Hochberg recently made Metroliner, a 
semi-abstract lyrical documentary of the American 

George Griffin is an animation artist whose most 
recent work, "Head" is an ironic, surreal look at the 
relationship of animator to subject. 

INDIE awards were also presented to ten others 
who either directly or through example had contribu- 
ted toward independence in film and video. 

The recipients were: 

•Karen Cooper, Director of the Film Forum, one of 
the premier showcases of independent films in New 
York City, introduced as "maybe the only woman 
theatrical programmer in the United States; certainly 
the only one who painted her own box office." 

•John Culkin, Director of the Center for Under- 
standing Media and instrumental in the formation of 
the Association of Independent Video and Film- 
makers, Inc. 

•Ed Emshwiller, film and video artist who has 
contributed tirelessly to the creation of a community 
among independents through his involvement with the 
American Film Institute, The Filmmaker's Co-op, 
and the Association. 

•Howard Guttenplan, Director of Millenium, a 
New York-based equipment center and, for many 
years now, an exhibition center for avant-garde film 

•Nancy Hanks, Director of the National Endow- 
ment for the Arts. Ed Lynch jokingly described this as 
"our only blatantly self-serving award." 

•Eleanor Perry and Frank Perry for independently 
producing David and Lisa in 1952 and hence serving 
as "godmother" and "godfather" respectively for 
independent theatrical feature makers. Amalie Roth- 
schild, a member of New Day Films and AIVF Board 
Member, in presenting the INDIE to Ms. Perry, 
praised her for her advocacy of increased hiring of 
women in the motion-picture industry. "I admire you 
independents," Eleanor Perry said. "I admire your 
toughness. Voltaire said, 'To hold a pen is to be at 
war.' Well, the same is true of using a camera." 

•Hilary Harris for his tenacity in making Organism 
over a fourteen-year period. 

•Barbara Kopple, who, in documenting the strug- 
gles of coal miners in a film still in progress, has 
opened up new pathways for the financing of social 
documentary work. 

•Nam June Paik, widely recognized as a founding 
father in the young world of video art. 

•George Stoney, documentary film and tapemaker, 
film teacher and Director of the Alternate Media 
Center, for his involvement in community media and 
issues of public access. 

AIVF president Ed Lynch and vice president Martha Coolidge present Indie Award to 
Ed Emshwiller for his long-time devotion to, and support of, independent film. 

Dan Sandberg, President of TVC Laboratories 

John Culkin: "To put the words 'Independent' and 
'Association' back to back is gaudy stuff'. Our pari of 
the film community has not been known for its 
ecumenical spirit. . there's been kind of a cold war 
going. . .so to watch what's happening here is really 
sensational. . . " 

George Griffin, in accepting the R. W, Altschuler Award, reads from his fifth-grade 
report card: "George spends too much time drawing. "In the background, Mrs. Ethel 
Altschuler, widowof'R.W. Altschuler, and Ed Lynch. 

14 /July, 1976 / Independent GAZETTE 


Reading the Fine Print in your Distribution Contract 

The Distribution Contract 

This article begins with the assumption that you 
have or will find distribution for your film and need to 
understand the contract you will sign. 

Contracts are so varied that it is impossible to 
discuss a "standard" one. I will name the items and 
considerations that are — or should be — common to all 
distribution contracts. 

What follows is oriented toward "non-theatrical" 
distribution; that is, sale and rental to primary 
through high schools, colleges, universities, public 
libraries, film societies, churches, museums, com- 
munity groups and specialized areas within this mar- 
ket such as medical schools, women's groups, art 
schools, et al. short, all market areas outside 
"theatrical" exhibition. 

Most distribution contracts are exclusive. This 
means that you have given the distributor sole rights 
to your films and you cannot enter into an agreement 
with any other distributor. 

The cash investment in a film, necessary for effec- 
tive promotion, is what prompts a distributor to ask 
for exclusivity. They do not want competition for an 
identical title when their dime is on the line. 
Some exceptions to exclusivity are possible: 

1. Not all distributors ask for exclusivity (though 
virtually all the large companies do). The Co-ops 
(Canyon Cinema in California; Center Cinema in Illi- 
nois; Filmmakers Co-op in New York) do not and 
some of the smaller or more specialized distribution 
companies do not. 

2. You can ask for and sometimes receive permis- 
sion to handle individual sales and rentals that might 
come directly to you. If this is agreed upon, have it in 

3. Let us say your film has both broad, general 
appeal and is also about a subject that has a small, 
specialized audience. You are negotiating with Distri- 
butor X who deals with the broad, general audience 
and you are willing to have Distributor X handle your 
film. However, Distributor Y deals extensively with 
the small, specialized market your film's subject also 
appeals to and Y would like to distribute your film in 
that market. In a case like this — where Distributor 
Y's market was not likely to conflict directly with 
Distributor X's interest — you should ask both distri- 
butors for a contract with "conditional" exclusivity — 
each contract specifically "excepting" the other. That 
is, your contract with X would read that they had 
exclusive rights with the following exception naming 
Distributor Y and vice versa in your contract with Y. 

Term of the Contract 

The term of the contract is the length of time that it 
applies. This varies from distributor to distributor 
ranging from seven years to forever. In a contract, 
"forever" is called in perpetuity and you do not want 
to sign on for this length of time. In fact, you want to 
sign for the shortest amount of time possible. 

It takes at least a year for a distributor to make a 
film title known in the marketplace. The next two 
years will see the fruit of the first year's labor. This is 
the first "bloom" of the film and sometimes that is all 
there is. Other times, a film will rent and sell consis- 
tently for many years thereafter. This factor has a lot 
to do with the "subject" of the film. Many theatrical 
films that bomb at first or have been dead for years 
experience "revivals." This is seldom the case with 
non-theatrical films, however. 

If you are reluctant to agree to the length of time 
specified in a contract because you are unsure of the 
distributor's ability to market your film effectively, try 

Build your hut in the marketplace. 

Romance Without Finance Ain 't Got No Chance. 
—Charlie Parker 


negotiating the contract for the distributor's desired 
term but ask to insert a clause that stipulates if the 
distributor has not returned X amount of money to 
you within Y years — Y years being shorter than the 
contract term — the contract terminates and all rights 
revert to you, Y years should be a short amount of 
time, say two or three years, and X amount of money 
should be "within reason." It is perfectly proper for 
you to ask the distributor what amount she/he feels is 
"within reason." It is also a good idea for you to get 
an outside, "expert" opinion on what is "within 

Warranty to Distributor 

All contracts contain a section where the filmaker 
"assures" the distributor that the filmmaker does, in 
legal fact, own the "rights" she/he is granting to the 
distributor. This assurance means that you have the 
right to grant distribution rights; that you have not 
invaded anyone's privacy or that, if you have, you are 
in possession of releases; that you are not infringing 
on the rights of others, i.e., music rights, literary 
rights, etc. 

You also assure the distributor that there are no 
claims or litigation pending that could conceivably 
affect the right you hold. 

In this same section it will usually say that the film- 
maker agrees to "indemnify" and hold harmless the 
distributor against any legal judgments. This means 
that you accept all responsibility for damages incurred 
by the distributor should someone else's rights be 
declared paramount. The extent of your legal respon- 
sibility is spelled out in the terms of the indemnity. 
The indemnity may include not only judgments but 
also legal fees and court costs in the defense of any 
claim. If you are accepting responsibility for legal 
claims made by anyone contesting your rights, you 
should have the opportunity to control or at least 
consult with the defense. 

Film Materials 

A standard clause is that a negative of the film will 
be deposited with a laboratory and the distributor will 
have access to the negative for the purpose of making 
prints. Specify in the contract that the negative will be 
deposited in your name. Some distributors will agree 
to leaving your film in a laboratory of your choice. 

Freude is both a filmmaker and a distributor. She 
runs SERIOUS BUSINESS CO.. the West Coast 
based film distribution company. 


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This may not always be to your advantage unless there 
is some particular problem with your film that you feel 
only one special lab can handle. 

Distributors have agreements and special price 
arrangements with their own laboratories. Because of 
the volume business they do with labs, they can get a 
better price on prints than you can as an individual 
producer and they may insist your negative be de- 
posited with their lab. If it is deposited in their lab, it 
should still be deposited in your name. You should 
also include a clause that says you have the right to 
buy prints at cost directly from the distributor should 
you need to. 

Never give up your originals. Unless you are selling 
your film outright (which is a bad idea, anyway), 
supply the distributor only with a negative — or with 
the originals only for the purpose of making a nega- 

If you do not already have a negative and the dis- 
tributor agrees to make the negative at her/his cost, 
or agrees to share the cost, write this into the contract. 


There is the whole world to choose from when 
defining territory, and distributors frequently ask for 
it. You are not obliged nor is it frequently in your 
interest to sign an exclusive contract giving "world- 
wide" rights. You can limit the territory specifically. 

After "world-wide" the most commonly asked for 
territory is "the United States and its territories and 
possessions and the ships that fly its flag" with 
"Canada" often thrown in, as well. There are now 
many good film distributors in Canada and you may 
wish to seek separate distribution there. There is not 
much market in Europe on the university level but 
there is a healthy television sale market and there 
again, you may wish to negotiate separately with a 
distributor or agent for Europe. 

Media Rights: The Scope of the License 

Regarding media rights, it is quite important to be 
specific. A contract will usually state under "rights" 
either theatrical or non-theatrical (or both) and tele- 
vision and then include the phrase "and other forms 
and sizes." 

Sizes usually refers to guage. That is. a film you 
supply in 16mm may be reduced to Super 8 or blowup 
to 35mm. 

Other forms can mean not only videotape, cassette, 
disc, etc., but also whatever "forms" may be invented 
during the term of your contract. 

Television rights are commonly included in distri- 
bution contracts. Television is now a complex and 
varied marketplace including network, public, syndi- 
cated, cable, closed circuit, et al. You may wish to 
limit TV rights or to specifically exclude certain areas 
in the television market. You must exclude these 
specifically by name. 

If you believe your film is appropriate for these 
other media and you want this potential exploited, 
you should question the distributor about her/his 
interest and ability to transfer and market your film in 
these ways. You should have the promise to do so in 
writing. You should also consider if the royalties paid 
to you under the "film" terms should also apply to 
these other forms or if you wish to receive a greater 
royalty in these special cases. If you do, this should be 
in the contract. 

If you do not want to grant the right for any or all 
other "forms," the right(s) you wish to withhold 
shouid be set down explicitly in the contract as an 
exception to the rights otherwise granted and de- 

Independent GAZETTE/ July. 1976/15 

". . .No ma. you're a limited partner. You get yours only after defer- 
ments get theirs out of first monies from the producer 's gross. Now 
remember, the producer's gross is really only 50% of the distributor's 
net — that is. the distributors gross less the cost of. . ." 


Royalties are how and what you are paid. This is 
always stated in terms of percentages: Filmmaker will 
receive X percent of the revenue derived from the film. 
"X percent of the revenue derived" should be quali- 
fied by either "gross" or "net." 

It is important that the percentage of "what" be 
clearly defined. Gross revenue means money received 
with no expenses deducted. Net indicates that some 
expenses will be deducted before your share is cal- 
culated. If your contract states a percentage of net, 
net must be clearly spelled out. What is being de- 
ducted to constitute net? Is it print cost only? Is it 
advertising and publicity? If it is advertising and 
publicity, forget it. Do not agree to it. There is really 
no acceptable way a distributor can determine accu- 
rately given advertising and promotion costs on a 
short film in this market. 

Most medium to large distribution companies are 
now offering from 17 to 25% of the "gross" revenue. 
When a company offers a percentage of gross it means 
that they will absorb all distribution costs: print cost, 
advertising, postage, etc. There are some smaller 
companies that will offer 50% of the sales with the 
filmmaker and distributor sharing the cost of the 
prints. This is equivalent to 40% of the gross. 

Make sure it is stated clearly how often you will 
receive an accounting. It should be at least twice 
yearly and you should name the number of days by 
which it is due within each accounting period (say, bi- 
annually, within the first 15 days of each six-month 
period). Does it say that the distributor will submit 
itemaed statements along with your royalty check? 
You will want to know where your film has been seen 
and, unless specifically requested, very few distri- 
butors provide an itemized statement. You should 
also ask that the distributor forward to you all copies 
of advertising or publicity released or received relative 
to your film. 

It is extremely important that when and how often 
you receive accountings be clearly defined because, in 
case of trouble, it is usually in this area that it will be 
easiest for you to claim breach of contract if you ever 
need or want to. 

Film Festival Awards 

You may wish to spell out procedure on film festi- 
vals. Does the distributor intend to enter your film in 
festivals? You may wish to reserve the right to enter 
you film in festivals yourself. If it is mutually agree- 
able that the distributor enter your film in festivals, 
you may wish to limit the royalty amount the distribu- 
tor may take on prize money awarded to your film. 

There are at least two advantages to advances. One, 
it is immediate money in the bank. Two, having 
advanced money, a distributor is more than likely to 
actively promote the film to regain her/his invest- 
ment. Unfortunately, advances, unless you have a 
very hot property, are hard to come by. Distributors 
would rather invest the money directly in the film via 

promotion and prints than in the filmmaker. It 
doesn't hurt to ask, however — especially if there is a 
great need for a film of the sort you've made and if you 
sense the distributor wants your film very much. 

Breach of Contract 

Breach of contract is the way out. If you are 
unhappy with the way your film is being distributed — 
for whatever reason — it is not reaching the audience 
you think it should; your royalty payments are non- 
existent or late or suspect for some reason; the film is 
being advertised or promoted in a way you consider 
inappropriate or exploitative, you may want to cancel 
your contract. 

If you can find no other specific agreement that has 
been violated, if you have clearly spelled out the time 
period of royalty payments and if this schedule has not 
been followed to the letter by the distributor, you can 
claim breach of contract on that basis. It is for this 
reason important that you keep the statements sent 
to you by the distributor for reference and proof. 

It is extremely important that you have a clause in 
the contract covering yourself in the event the distri- 
butor goes bankrupt. You want a clause that says: 
(1) if the distributor should cease to be actively 
engaged in the distribution business, or (2) the distri- 
butor's business is liquidated, or (3) the distributor 
becomes bankrupt or makes an assignment for the 
benefit of its creditors; then your contract terminates 
and all rights revert back to you. Not only rights but 
all property relating to the film including the negative 
in the lab, the prints on the distributor's shelf and all 
monies due to the distributor with respect to your 

General Considerations 

Placing a film with a distributor is in some ways not 
unlike giving a child up for adoption. It is rarely 
possible to know your distributor personally. 

The contract is a vital document. It is worth having 
a lawyer look at it before you sign it. Carl Sandberg 
did not say, "Nobody cries when a lawyer dies" for 
nothing, however. Even if your lawyer looks at it first 
(or last), it is important that you have read it and 
understand perfectly what it is you have agreed to. 

This contract, however legally binding, is, after all, 
only a piece of paper. Though it is important that you 
be satisfied with the formal wording of your contract, 
you also want to have confidence in the way it is going 
to really function. This means it is a good idea to have 
confidence in your distributor. 

If you are satisfied with the interest and under- 
standing expressed by the distributor, a good way to 
investigate the distributor's effectiveness is to write to 
other filmmakers listed in the distributor's catalogue 
and ask about their experience. It is best to write to 
several filmmakers because any given person's experi- 
ence may not be typical. Writing to the filmmakers in 
care of the distributor is as good a way as any to reach 
them. The distributor, if she/he wants your film, 
should be happy to forward such an inquiry. 



— Andrew Carnegie 

16 /July. 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 


Dear Horatio: 

I have met someone who says that he "really cares 
for me," which sounds right, but he refused to come 
to my place (Bowery) and insists that I come up to his 
place. He lives on West 95th St. Question : Is this the 
real world? 

— Esme 

/ have heard that it is easier to maintain a relation- 
ship between cities than between different parts of 
town. I have never heard of a successful get-together 
between boroughs that lasted without a move, and 
rather quickly. As to who travels in the first blush of 
romance, it depends on who is the adventurer, who 
has the nicest place (sun in the morning, room 
service, etc.) and who is the most insecure. 

Dear Horatio, 

Has anyone done any serious work on drug com- 
binations? I get confused. For example, I'm fine on 
librium, weed, and a little bit of coke, but if I have a 
beer, I keep repeating myself and running into things. 
Or if I'm workin' on aspirin, B-12, and a little bit of 
dex and I take a toke, the walls start to curl and my 
mouth gets fuzzy around the edges. Or when I'm full 
out on soapers, gum, boats and stompers and I take a 
little bit of acid I can't remember which way I'm 
goin', if you know what I mean. So how'm I sup- 
posed to know what to take? 

— Stompin' and stokin' 
Dear S & S, 

You're supposed to be doing exactly what you are 
doing, believe it or not. The way out from where you 
are is always confused with the way in. Not to be 
cute though, you do have one hell of a problem, and 
I feel that 1 should advise you to go to the one place 
that you will go anyhow— a good dealer who should 
try to keep you straight. It is good for business. 

Dear Horatio, 

Lately I've been feeling unquiet, like I'm living 
outside myself. Even the sand and the sunshine don't 
help. My friends tell me that I must be careful not to 
become my own perspective. Can you help me find 
my space? (I'm also looking for an apartment.) 

-Confused on the Coast 
Dear Confused, 

For sure. 

Dear Horatio : 

I have small breasts and big feet so I know that I 
can never be an actress. What's in the future for five- 
year-olds, generally? 

— Budding 
Dear Bud, 


Dear Horatio, 

My dog has a habit of whining when the TV is on, 
looking worried all the time, wanting to come into 
the bathroom when I take a bath and then staring at 
me, sniffing everyone's you-know-what, staring at 
me and everyone else with sad eyes when they are 
eating, but otherwise is a great dogl My (dog) 
psychiatrist says that it doesn't sound serious, but 
that I should come in for consultation. My neighbor 
says that I should join her "group". What do you 

n a/ jj, j —Muddled 

Dear Muddled, 

I don't have a dog, but yours sounds normal, 
which is why I don't have a dog. But really— try and 
learn from Fido: sell your TV, relax, take your mutt 
in the tub, and feed the animal outside. 

Forget about the group— those arrangements don't 
work in this country. 


Copyright: All Rights Reserved? 

Copyright? Yes, copyright is this funny symbol 
which you put at the end of your film or tape when 
you're done. You put your name and the date. Maybe 
you add "ALL RIGHTS RESERVED" in bold type. 
And then no-one can use your film. Right? 

Ask again. Copyright is a law, a very technical 
branch of law, that few people fully understand. The 
American copyright laws that are now on the books 
have been there, unchanged, since 1909. For almost a 
quarter of a century, Congress has wanted to revise 
the laws but they've never been able to come to a 
consensus. Sort of like Red Dye #2's relationship to 
the Food and Drug Administration: no one can deny 
that action* is needed but there have been so many 
special and conflicting interests involved that it has 
been easier not to act. 

Meanwhile, technology has altered the real prob- 
lems of copyright. The invention of jukeboxes, tele- 
vision and photocopying, not to mention videotape, 
make statutes written in 1909 seem a little feeble. 

1975 was supposed to be the year of Copyright but at 
the end of the Congressional sessions, hearings were 
still being held, a consensus still elusive. Very well, 

1976 would be the year of Copyright. This time it 
seems that Congress means it. Chances are that by 
autumn we will have new copyright laws. And at stake 
in the copyright debate has been the very basis of our 
livelihood as film and video artists. 

The so-called "educational exemption" to the 
Copyright Revision Bill was designed to permit 
schools, libraries, museums and other educational 
institutions to reproduce short films and videotapes as 
well as poems, short books and music without pay- 
ment to the publishers or producers. Think about that 
for a moment. Schools, libraries, museums . . . without 
payment to the producers. The potential annihilation 
of our aspirations at self-sufficiency lay buried in the 
fine print of a little-publicized piece of legislation. 
Only that rare independent filmmaker whose support 
comes from theatrical distribution — and we can count 
them on the fingers of two hands, or is it one? — would 
have any economic base whatsoever to support his or 
her work. AIVF President Ed Lynch once compared 
copyright to the Ozone layer, just too remote to get 
worked up about . . . until perhaps you are forced to 
recognize the dimensions of what's at stake. 

In order to first understand how legislation like the 
educational exemption could receive serious consid- 
eration in Congress, we have to take a couple of 
conceptual steps backward. Laws reflect society. The 
priorities of law reflect the values of the society that 
has enacted those laws. To look at the vast array of 
United States laws that concern transportation, for 
example, tells us that modern-day Americans are 
obsessed with the automobile. And so it is with 
Copyright. Bella Linden, an internationally recog- 
nized copyright expert and a vocal opponent of the 
educational exemption, came down to the Association 
meeting-place one evening and sketched out for us the 
history of copyright. It was founded during the middle 
ages when the prime concern in reproduction and 
copying was maintaining the integrity of religious 
texts being copied; it followed that the laws addressed 
themselves exclusively to the obligation of the copier 
to copy the scriptures accurately. After the invention 
of the press, publishing became an industry and an 
economic incentive had to be established which would 
induce writers to write. So copyright law was turned 
around to fill that need; in essence, it now made of 
literary and musical creations a marketable property, 
which in turn guaranteed the society of an ample 
supply of "creations" to feed their newly found indus- 
try. The basic function of copyright has remained 
unchanged since then. Now, in the 1970's, the pro- 
posed law undermines the "copy" "right" of the 

Tom Lennon is the Administrative Director of the 

by Tom Lennon 

creator in favor of the educational institutions and the 
vast industrical concerns involved in technological 
reproduction, such as IBM and Xerox. That speaks 
eloquently, Bella Linden pointed out, to American 
societal values at this point in our history. We revere 
technology and we revere the educational complex 
and its host of symbols and degrees. Writers, musi- 
cians, media artists and poets don't figure quite so 
prominently in our priorities. 

The educational institutions — and this applies 
equally to PBS, whose "Mathias" amendment I will 
discuss below — are facing some lean years. Massive 
quantities of federal money were injected into the 
libraries and schools in the sixties but the seventies 
have held out only the promise of cut-backs and fiscal 
austerity. With expenses spiralling and appropria- 
tions being reduced, there has been no alternative but 
to start axing personnel. . .unless, that is, the institu- 
tions can find a means of getting something for 
nothing. Which brings us to the educational exemp- 

A school can't ask to be given its milk or its desks 
for free. And certainly it can't demand that Xerox 
Corporation donate a photocopying machine. But 
copyright? Copyright is a little different. It's less 
tangible. And artists and writers carry no electoral 
clout. The National Educational Association recog- 
nized an idea whose time had come and lumbered into 
action. "We work for people, not for profits!" they 
cried. It seemed plausible enough. At the hearings, 
young schoolteachers with long hair and beards testi- 
fied about their plight in one-room schools in Appala- 
chia, unable to afford textbooks and audio-visual 
materials. Meanwhile, defending the rights of the 
"copyright proprietors" — a term which in itself had 
very negative public relations value — were the likes of 
James Michener, John Hersey and the presidents of 
the publishing houses and film distributions com- 
panies. To the Senators, the message was clearly one 
of the poor versus the privileged. As Senator Pastore 
put it: "Why should the public have to pay composers 
and others in Hollywood? Those people make enough 

money already." Kennedy waxed enthusiastic about 
the educational exemption; Mathias, Bayh and other 
liberals followed suit. Those who defended the integ- 
rity of copyright found themselves allied with Senator 
Hruska, Senator McClellan and the militant right. 
The educational exemption was at its core an 
attempt at expropriation. It was expected that it 
would come under attack from conservatives who 
regard it as governmental meddling in the sacred 
arena of private property. Although many AIVF 
members might describe themselves as socialists of 
one hue or another, we found ourselves in agreement 
with the conservatives, defending our right to function 
in the free-market system, for the educational exemp- 
tion called for the total destruction of a marketplace 
while providing for no system with which to replace it. 
It is sometimes said that America's economic system 
is one of capitalism for the poor and socialism for the 
rich and both proposed amendments to the Copyright 
Revision Bill vividly illustrate that wry observation. 

Putting aside for a moment our interests as film and 
video artists, let's consider the implications of the 
educational exemption for the country as a whole. The 
economic basis for the production of audio-visual 
materials would disappear overnight. The schools and 
libraries would enjoy an orgy of videotaping for a 
couple of years. No new films or tapes, however, 
would be available to replace obsolete work. The 
institutions would have to look to the vast corpora- 
tions for new (free) films. The government would be 
forced to stimulate production or go into production 
itself, offsetting any short-term economic gains made 
by reducing educational budgets. Meanwhile, the 
independent voice, always fragile in film and televi- 
sion, will have been silenced. Who would make the 
films on Watergate, on Cuba, on Methadone treat- 
ment, on any of the thousands of topics which govern- 
ment and industry would rather not see in the main- 
stream of public information channels? 

Through our lawyer. Bob Kline, the Association 
learned of the copyright legislation in the fall of 1975, 
late in the legislative process. The bill was already out 
of committee in the Senate and imminently due to be 
voted on. The House was (and still is) trailing the 
Senate, but it, too, had closed its doors in order to 

Independent GAZETTE /July, 1976/17 

"The educational exemption catted for the total 
destruction of a marketplace while providing no 
system with which to replace it. " 

"mark up" the bill and heard no more testimony. We 
had to accept the fact that we were not in a position to 
propose legislation. We put aside thoughts of possible 
copyright systems we might have proposed to Con- 
gress, such as a clearinghouse for film and video 
artists, on the model of ASCAP, which would pay 
royalties to artists whenever their work was repro- 
duced on video tape. We had to support or oppose the 
bill and its amendments as they were presently writ- 
ten. We put all of our efforts into defeating two 
proposed amendments to the body of the bill: the 
educational exemption, already described, and the 
Mathias amendment. 

The educational exemption is, at first reading, an 
evident horror. The Mathias amendment eludes such 
simple definition. It provides for the compulsory 
licensing of non-dramatic literary works, as well as 
sculptural, musical, graphic and pictorial (not film or 
video) works to public broadcasting corporations at a 
fixed fee to be determined by a governmental agency. 
Under the system which Senator Mathias put for- 
ward, a PBS station, should it want to use excerpts or 
ideas from Future Shock, for example, does not have 
to contact Alvin Toffler, but merely file, post facto, a 
notice of use with a centralized copyright agency. If, 
at the end of the year, Alvin Toffler or his agent 
contacts the agency, he will discover that PBS has 
used his work and that he is entitled to a given sum of 
money. (Stanley Kunitz, the poet, estimated he would 
collect ten cents if his poetry were read over the air.) 
Toffler would have no right to refuse PBS the use of 
his book. If he deems insufficient the fee allocated to 
him, he can appeal his case to the ominously-named 
Copyright Royalty Tribunal; any extra monies would 
be given to him after deducting "reasonable adminis- 
trative expenses" (!) for the cost of the appeal. 

The Mathias Amendment is a complex, hastily 
conceived bill which no one — certainly not its sponsor 
— appears to fully understand. Basically, it grants to 
PBS a privileged relationship to copyrighted literature 
and music. PBS claims that it is merely seeking to 
streamline the process of obtaining rights to copy- 
righted material, a process so time-consuming, sup- 
posedly, that it discourages local stations from putting 
together their own programs. A plausible argument. 
But when asked if they would limit the Mathias 
Amendment to programs which are being used for 
local, one-time use only, the PBS lawyers showed no 
interest, revealing that, more probably, they are sim- 
ply looking for areas in which they can cut major 
costs. Mike Klipper from Senator Mathias' office 
conceded that this was the aim of the bill. 

The Association talked to no one who could or 
would satisfactorily explain the long-term implica- 
tions of the bill. Even as we raced from one Senate 
office to another trying to figure out how the hell you 
get from the Longworth to the Rayburn Building, one 
of us would be muttering, "Could someone just 
explain to me again why we're opposed to the Mathias 
Amendment?" The New York Times published an 
editorial opposing the Mathias Amendment; its edi- 
torial arguments were based on a misreading of the 

AIVF finds the Mathias Amendment objectionable 
on numerous counts. It would create a bureaucracy of 
vast proportions. Within the workings of that bu- 
reaucracy, the author of a non-dramatic literary work 
loses the right to choose the producer of his or her 
work, because PBS has automatic access to it. PBS 
can accidentally or intentionally misrepresent that 
work in its visual reinterpretation of it. It can suppress 
ideas that it finds not to its liking. Independent film 
and video artists will be highly reluctant to produce 
documentary works which draw on literary material 
since exclusive rights to that material will no longer be 

available. Finally, the Mathias Amendement heavily 
"taxes" authors, musicians and filmmakers rather 
than distribute the burden of supporting public tele- 
vision equally among American taxpayers. 

Having just waded your way through the grey 
prose of the preceeding paragraphs, you will under- 
stand why it wasn't immediately easy to get the inde- 
pendent media community aroused about copyright. 
"It doesn't have sex, it doesn't have power, it doesn't 
have money — how are you planning to get anyone 
interested?" a legislative assistant was to sneer, later, 
when we were in Washington. 

Bob Kline and Don Connors, a filmmaker, drafted 
a statement which was sent to all members of the 
House Judiciary Committee, of which the Subcom- 
mittee on Courts, Civil Liberties and the Adminis- 
tration of Justice, which handles copyright, is a part. 
We received a smattering of form letters in reply. 
Bella Linden's presentation in December made it 
clear that we should mobilize to go down to Wash- 
ington and make ourselves heard in person. John 
Hiller, a film-editor and a new member of the Asso- 
ciation, threw himself into the task of mobilizing an 
educational campaign. We had to play our desire to 
mount a thoroughly impressive "uptown-style" effort 
against the limits of our energy and resources — we 
were a one-person staff — and no one knew for sure 
when the bill would come to the Senate floor. It 
could be any day. In soliciting appointments with 
legislators over the telephone, John became a master 
of the technique of intimidation through silence. 
First comes the pitch in a resonant voice, then the 
confident request for an appointment, followed by 
the protest of the legislative aide: "But the Congress- 
man has hearings for most of the morning. . .(silence 
from our end). . .the vote on the cut-off of funds for 
Angola is scheduled for that day. . .normally the 
Congressman will only see constituents on this issue 
. . .well, how about for ten minutes, absolute maxi- 
mum, at eleven?" Two cars, ten filmmakers and two 
dozen appointments jelled for the last days of Janu- 
ary and we were off. 

Into Washington in the driving rain long after 
midnight. We stayed with friends. The first appoint- 
ment the next day, at eight in the morning, is with 
Susan Englehart, a lobbyist for the American Asso- 
ciation of Publishers. There we link up with two 
Washington filmmakers from a fledgling organiza- 
tion called the Washington Area Filmmaker's 
League, formed along lines similar to AIVF. Susan 
Englehart's report: The educational exemption is not 
part of the bill as passed out of the Senate committee 
but it may well be introduced on the floor. The 
Mathias Amendment is in the bill and still at this 
late date no Senator has agreed to sponsor an 
amendment to delete that amendment. Rumor has it 
that Mathias might not oppose such an amendment- 
to-remove-the- amendment but no one is sure and 
Mathias is stalling. 

Into taxis for our appointment with Representative 
Charles Wiggins, the conservative from California 
who achieved notoriety last year during the House 
hearings on Nixon's impeachment. Wiggins listened 
intently to what we said and asked precise questions. 
He sympathized with our opposition to the educa- 
tional exemption; beyond that, he sought from us 
details on the economics of audio-visual production 
and reproduction. "Yeah, I get it," he said, "you're 
the little guys who stand to get wiped out." He 
surveyed our tousled hair and clothes and broke into 
a wide grin, his eyes twinkling. "In effect, you're the 
operators of small businesses. . .you're a bunch of 
right- wingersl" We smiled uncomfortably, looked 
down, shifted in our seats. Until we saw him mis- 
chievously enjoying our embarrassment, relishing the 


18 /July. 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

"The larger issues of free speech and copyright 
integrity were being lost while the vested interests 
divvied up the spoils." 

irony of our agreeing with him, and then we laughed 
too. It was a human moment, shared as we shuffled 
out of his office into the maze of corridors. 

We reached the office of every member of the 
House Subcommittee. Our sense was that support for 
the educational exemption was not strong and that 
our presence was making further inroads against it. 
But most members' opposition to the amendments 
stopped short of a promise to oppose it and, further- 
more, we had difficulty knowing how much we could 
trust of what we were told. 

Since the bill was out of committee on the Senate 
side, we had to speak to as many Senators and aides 
as we could reach. Clearly, we were filling a need. 
The legislative aides, who do much of the decision- 
making on the less political issues, were for the most 
part ill-informed about copyright problems specific 
to audio-visual materials. A highly successful educa- 
tional film might sell five hundred prints, while 
books are counted in the hundreds of thousands; this 
difference, for example, was a revelation to many on 
the Hill. "Let's see," said one aide who was involved 
in drafting the legislation on the House side, "what 
audio-visual media are there? There's film. What 
else? What? Video? I see. . ." and then he listened 
white we explained. 

I had always thought of lobbyists as sinister men 
with elegant blue suits and vast expense accounts 
who enticed our legislators into passing disastrous 
legislation in return for trips to the Caribbean. And 
we found that there was truth to that image. But 
lobbyists also supply legislators with information and 
expertise that they would otherwise have no access 
to. Which is great. Except that some segments of 
society can afford lobbyists and others can't. Twenty 
minutes before a vote, the legislative aide sifts 
through all the material that has been sent to his 
office on any given issue and on the strength of that 
material advises his Senator how to vote. They won't 
be swayed by arguments which never reach them. If 
the needs of independent film and video artists are 
callously disregarded in legislation, it must also be 
true that, just as often, they are merely overlooked. 
At the risk of sounding humorous, I will say that the 
legislators were often grateful that we had reached 
them with our point of view. 

We argued for a full hour with the aide whom 
Bella Linden had previously identified as central, 
perhaps more than any man on the Senate side, to 
the drafting and support of both the educational and 
Mathias amendments. "I can see the thing from your 
point of view, I guess," he conceded at the end. 
"You see, until now, the only people arguing your 
side of the case have been a bunch of ass-holes from 
Time-Life and I don't care what happens to them." 

Supposed allies and supposed foes were repeatedly 
a source of surprise. We sought to interest the Amer- 
ican Film Institute in the copyright issue. Several 
weeks before our group trip to Capitol Hill, Martha 
Cooldige had to go down to Washington for the 
opening of her film. She took the opportunity to 
meet with Michael Webb at the AFI, talk about the 
pending legislation and drop off our printed litera- 
ture. Three weeks passed: no word. We were collect- 
ing names to sigh a joint statement of opposition to 
the legislation and called Webb to ask if he, individ- 
ually, or the AFI, collectively, wished to put their 
names to our statement. No, he explained, he could 
not take a position, but when we're down here, he 
would be willing to talk to us more about it. With 
appointments scheduled back to back, that was un- 
feasible. We never heard from the AFI since. At this 
writing, the American Film Institute, whose mandate 
and generous budget are to further the growth of 
film in the United States, has remained mute on an 
issue which would have devastated a whole segment 
of the filmmaking community. 

Meanwhile, I confess to a lingering affection for 
Mike Klipper, Senator Mathias' legislative aide. We 
met him in the Senate's basement cafeteria. He 
bought a Pepsi from the soda machine and sat down 
with ten filmmakers crowding around him in the 
booth. We barraged him. What would the Mathias 
Amendment achieve that more funds directly allo- 
cated to PBS would not accomplish more efficiently? 
What about the potential suppression of ideas? What 
does the bill mean by a work's "adaptation"? This 
amendment, he explained, was written before he was 
working for the Senator. Although he must have 
been over thirty years of age, he would have passed 
for a college student. His mouth turned up at the 
corners in a look of almost boyish embarrassment as 
we debated the value of the bill. He mentioned a 
book. "I haven't read it," Phil Messina retorted, 
"but I guess I'll soon be able to catch it on PBS 
instead." Aware of our numerical advantage, we 
relented, but he urged us on. It was seven in the 
evening before he said he had to leave. As we got up 
to go, he pressed us with more questions. How did 
we get down to Washington? Did we have places to 
stay? Did we know so-and-so, now a filmmaker, 
formerly his roommate in college? Inwardly, he 
seemed to feel that the Mathias Amendment was a 
mistake. And we apparently embodied for him a 
rebelliousness, a different consciousness, that he 
wanted to feel was not dead in him. 
After two long days, we drove back to New York, 
talked out and frazzled, but satisfied. A few days 
elapsed and John Hiller then made a follow-up call to 
Susan Englehart. She was seemingly jubilant. "You 
people are in the wrong business!" she said. "You 
stirred up the whole place. You turned the tide." 
The day after we left, Humphrey had agreed to 
sponsor an amendment to remove the Mathias 
Amendment. Senators Cranston and Buckley were to 
co-sponsor the bill. We could hardly have hoped for 
a more powerful coalition representing, as they did, 
the complete ideological and geographical range of 
the country. To us, victory on both amendments 
seemed highly probable. Susan Englehart concurred. 

With relief, we turned back to our daily chores. 
The day before the vote, in a briefing to the New 
York Film Council, Ed Lynch all but claimed credit 
for the imminent defeat of the amendments. Yes, we 
were a little naive. Then came the stunning news. 
The Mathias Amendment had passed. A couple of 
days before the vote, Senator Pastore had made a 
powerful emotional appeal for the survival of PBS: 
"Have we lost our confidence in humankind to be 
fair? Let me conclude by saying, God save public 
broadcasting!" PBS, in Congress, is apple pie. Hum- 
phrey withdrew his sponsorship of the anti-Mathias 
amendment at the last minute. Cranston and Buck- 
ley hastily redrafted their amendment so as to merely 
require inclusion in the Mathias Amendment of a 
right-to-veto on the part of the artist. But that 
amendment was voted down by a comfortable mar- 

In our disappointment, we hardly noticed the good 
news, namely that the educational exemption had 
not been introduced on the floor of the Senate. 
Whether our presence influenced the decision of the 
proponents of the educational exemption not to at- 
tempt a floor vote, we have no way of knowing. 

We will also never know what manner of secret 
pacts and gentlemanly agreements led to the sudden 
drama in the voting of the Mathias Amendment. The 
vote was for us an instant education in the manners 
and methods. of American politics. Certainly, we had 
been manipulated. We don't even fully understand 
all the whos and whys. That kind of intrigue is finally 
not very interesting, unless perhaps you're being paid 
a fat salary to play at it full time. 

We watched from New York while the educational 

exemption died a slow but inexorable death in the 
House subcommittee. We were partially instrumental 
in getting major articles published on the Mathias 
Amendment in the Village Voice, Variety and the 
New York Times. But the PBS lawyers were negotiat- 
ing with the publishers and with ASCAP and the 
larger issues of free speech and copyright integrity 
were being lost while the vested interests divvied up 
the spoils. We had neither the desire nor the re- 
sources to involve ourselves in such negotiations. 

The music and publishing interests hope to kill it 
in the House. If they are not strong enough to do so, 
they can quite possibly remove the worst teeth from 
the bill through the inclusion, for example, of an 
artist's right to veto. 

In helping to defeat the educational exemption 
and in bringing the issue of copyright into the public 
forum, we had largely fulfilled our immediate task. 
In doing so, we had succeeded only in upholding the 
status quo in the face of a potential calamity. For an 
independent maker of films or tapes, the status quo 
is hardly cause for celebration. With or without the 
blessings of the law, the Xerox and Sony machines 
will remain busy in the universities, systematically 
ripping off the artist. Are photocopying and video- 
taping machines to be licensed, as they are in Ger- 
many, where each use brings a royalty to the creator? 
The systems of information dissemination in this 
country remain tightly controlled; the artist at one 
end and the public at the other are impoverished as a 
result. Amid all the debate and machinations sur- 
rounding the copyright controversy, the corporate 
stranglehold over the flow of information has yet to 
be seriously challenged or even discussed. Q 


The pace of the Big City slackens somewhat during 
July and August, but listed below are some highlights 
of independent film and video happenings in store for 
the summer: 

• June 17th &18th at The Kitchen: It's a living: 
Chicago '76. Videotapes by Skip Lumberg, Maxi 
Cohen and Joel Gold about working and making a 

• Stan Brakhage will be coming through the city. 
He will be present at a screening of his work at 
Millenium Film Workshop, also on June 19th, and 
will teach an intensive two-week seminar at NYU 
entitled "Shamanism: Story-Telling and Film." 

• The Fourth Women's Video Festival will run 
through June 27th, Thursdays through Sundays, at 
the Women's InterArt Center, 549 W. 52nd St. 

• Ken Jacobs, with his film "Star Spangled to 
Death", will hold a concert-performance: "FLOP: 
FOURTH OF JULY, 1976" at the Collective for 
Living Cinema, 52 White St., on July 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 8 

• The First Annual Celebration of Cinema & Art 
will take place on the historic grounds of Lyndhurst 
Castle in Tarrytown. The grounds will be open for 
picnicking at 6 PM and video, film and performance 
pieces will start at dusk. Sponsored by the Film 
Workshop of Westchester and AIVF. 

• Through July 4th, the Whitney Museum will be 
featuring its first regular programming of Video Art. 

• The 1976 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar will be 
held from August 28th through September 4th in 
Chestnut Hills, Mass. For details about this week- 
long residential seminar on documentary film, con- 
tact International Film Seminars, Tel. CI 7-5536. 
Deadline for submitting work for program consider- 
ation: July 15. 

Independent GAZETTE/Jufy. 1976/19 

Distribution of independently produced films and 
tapes has often been a rather grim business. In 
September, several members of the AIVF helped to 
form a new organization, called ICAP, which has 
been attempting to open up a new market for film and 
video artists. 

ICAP, Independent Cinema Artists and Producers, 
was set up to pre-screen films and negotiate for their 
showings on pay-cable television systems. ICAP's 
activities have been undergoing changes, as the entire 
cable industry has been rapidly transforming the 
communications field. 

Pay-cable television systems are quite different 
from the commercial networks. The viewer pays a 
certain amount to be hooked up to the basic cable 
service, and an extra fee to receive the pay channel. 
The largest pay-cable system is Home Box Office, 
which shows special programming uninterrupted by 
commercials. Home Box Office's main fare consists of 
features and sports, but in September, they began to 
take independent shorts, which ICAP brought to 

ICAP began as the Cable Committee of the AIVF. 
Charles Levine originated the idea for putting inde- 
pendent programming on a pay cable system as an 
experiment to show that a real audience exists for 
independent works. The Cable Committee drew up 
plans for an experiment which would involve the use 
of special hardware and marketing for independent 
works. The experiment would seek to show that 
independent programming, if handled properly, can 
attract enough of the audience to be economically 
viable. Because pay cable television has such a large 
audience potential, and can involve the direct pay- 
ment for programming (rather than through commer- 
cials), it could create a vast new market for independ- 
ent artists. A proposal for this experiment was sub- 
mitted to the New York State Council on the Arts last 
spring. {Some seed money has subsequently been 

It was during the research for this experiment that 
talks began with Home Box Office. Though they were 
not interested in running a controlled experiment, 
they were very eager to start screening independent 
works right away. The Cable Committee decided to 
form a new organization which would handle negotia- 
tions with HBO. 

ICAP is a non-profit, unincorporated association, 
that has applied for tax-exempt status. The Executive 
Coordinators are Charles Levine, Kitty Morgan, and 
Marc N. Weiss. We are filmmakers ourselves, and act 
on behalf of the artist. ICAP draws up a non-exclusive 
contract with the artist, authorizing us to negotiate 
with pay-cable systems. No agreements with the sys- 
tems are signed without the artist's consent. 

When we first began dealing with HBO, they only 
went into four Northeastern states, and had less than 
200,000 subscribers. Now, they have a national satel- 
lite system and go into several states, including the 
South and West. They have about 300,000 subscrib- 
ers, and are growing rapidly. 

Their main fare is feature films (about 60% ), sports 
(about 30%), and specials, including shorts (about 
10% ). Their monthly subscription fee ranges between 
S6-S10. Most of their features are first-run, still 
enjoying theatrical showings. They consider shorts to 
be filler material, to be shown between their main 

At the time we began to talk to them, HBO had a 

Kitty Morgan is co-founder and director of ICAP and 
a member of A VIF's Board of Directors. 

standard contract for shorts which paid a flat fee for 
an unlimited number of runs. They simply paid a 
certain amount per minute, and used the films as 
often as they liked for three months. 

We negotated a contract in which there would be a 
payment for every showing, and a guarantee of 6 
showings. We also insisted on an escalation clause, 
whereby the basic fee would increase as the number of 
subscribers increased. This was considered quite a 

Usually, a short film would be run between 10-50 
times during its one-year contract. With our contract, 
a half-hour film shown on HBO 10-20 times would 
make $1000 or more. With the old contract, it would 
make about half that amount, or less. Unlike distrib- 
utors, which usually take 50% or more, ICAP retains 
25% for administrative costs, and gives 75% to the 

In September, ICAP had its first showing on HBO. 
We had a good rapport with someone in the program- 
ming department, who really enjoyed our films. A 
couple of months later, he left the department, and 
there was no one around to take up the cause of 
independent works. The heads of the department 
came from the theatrical buying world, and were 
accustomed to thinking of shorts as insignificant. 
They devote almost all of their time to features and 
have expressed little interest in continuing to look at 
any shorts. 

At this time, HBO is reevaluating its position, and 
we expect to have a series of meetings with them soon. 
In the meantime, they continue to re-run the shorts we 
took to them in the fall, and the filmmakers are still 
getting checks for these runs. Since HBO's attitude 
towards shorts is unclear, ICAP has begun to deal 
with other pay cable systems. Many of the other 
systems don't even know that this kind of program- 
ming exists, and we are in the process of creating a 
promotional campaign for independent works. 

The idea behind ICAP was originally much broader 
than HBO — if pay cable keeps spreading as rapidly as 
it has ecently, it could provide a real revolution in the 
economics of arts programming. Audiences will have 
access to a greater variety of programming, and will 
pay directly for it. Lincoln Center has been exploring 
the possibility of using pay cable to increase its 
audience and its revenues. Thus, pay cable could 
increase the support of musicians, dancers, and per- 
haps all the arts. 

Advocates for pay-TV insist that it will become 
more widespread. They say that the networks are not 
free, since the public pays for the advertising of each 
commercial. The consumer is paying for everything 
on TV right now; why not just pay for what you 

Some insist that the per-program billing system 
will proliferate. Rather than a flat monthly subscrip- 
tion fee, this kind of billing involves the use of a com- 
puter which monitors what is being watched and only 
bills the customer for those programs. Probably pres- 
sure will come from the sporting events, people who 
would like to get $50 or $100 or whatever, for a prize 
fight. With a monthly billing system, they could not 
get that kind of money from each subscriber. How- 
ever, with a per-program system, they could com- 
mand those kinds of sums. 

It is important for us as artists and producers to 
keep aware of this technology and try to find ways to 
use it to our advantage. With the advent of pay-TV 
and video discs, we could finally find the wide audi- 
ence and support we need as independent artists. We 

must be aware of the possibilities and fight for our 

One concept behind ICAP is that it could eventually 
function like ASCAP, protecting the rights of artists 
and assuring the payment of royalties. With the 
explosion of communications technology, there could 
be the need for a body that would monitor the uses of 
visual material and see that fees are paid accordingly. 
If such an organization is set up, it should be done 
with the interests of the artist in mind. It should not 
be done by the business world, nor by the government. 
We could have the power to change the economics of 
our lives. 

ICAP requests that any correspondence regarding 
its activities be addressed to P.O. Box 775, New York, 
New York, 10013. Please do not send films without 
writing first. It is difficult for us to handle tapes at this 
time, but we hope that will change. We are in the 
process of making plans for the future and welcome 
volunteers, both for the AIVF cable experiment and 
for ICAP. Please contact Thomas Lennon at 
212-989-8366 for our new telephone number. Q 


Film glides through her fingers and is known. 

Messengers clutter; laboratories call; 
More white leader is badly needed; 

silence evaporates. 
On the next table the boy readies dailies. 
Time creaks on rewinds. 

How each film resembles the others! 

Gentle beginnings, estimable searchings, 
Clockwork smiles, courtly disasters: 
lusts reducible to excitement. 

Her mind is hinge to images. 

Ideas work or they do not. 

In this room days will splice together; 

Empty nights, as useless flash frames 

fall, and be forgotten. 
Beauty is repeatable, truth compatible, 
Art is enough, 

but that it charges the heart to want 
with tendrils of expectation, 
with leaves of promised glory. 

She says: 

Not now, please, not now. 

I have no time for this, for you, 
nor will there be 

that elegance of pleasure in small things 
I have come to understand as love. 

Film floods me, immobile, 

even as I seize it with my mind. 
In tide pools, in shadows, 

the moviola nightmares lie, 

unseen cues that overwhelm 

when hand and eyes no longer control 

what the brain may see. 

I view not what is, but what will be. 
Anticipating the gloss of dissolves, 

color corrections, magic effects, 

a most subtle mix. 
When film is finished I know nothing of it. 
It escapes me. Fits neatly into a can. 
I am dismembered as I assemble. 

I war with dreams, and lose. 

— Tom Schachtman 

20 /July. 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

White Ox Films: 
Funding the Future 

White Ox Films, Inc., is a non-profit film organiza- 
tion based in Rochester, New York. Its purpose is to 
harness the as yet untapped potential of the film and 
television media by developing new conceptual, tech- 
nical and practical systems in the field of cinema 
technology, aesthetics and communications. Our pri- 
mary purpose, however, is the use of such systems, 
once developed, to create films that are positive, 
healing and uplifting. We hope to give an overview of 
the ways in which we feel film and TV can be used to 
further the evolution of mankind by providing deeper, 
more total communications, particularly in the realm 
of art. 

There is no doubt that the works of filmmakers like 
Brakhage and Baillie, and the other pioneers of 
experimental film, have shown us the existence of an 
enormous potential — the potential of moving-picture 
communications. As sophisticated as these art works 
may appear by current criteria, they are really the 
early beginnings of the artistic development of a 
medium still in its infancy. Perhaps in 500 years the 
works of these artists, which are misunderstood or not 
understood at all by the general public, will be seen as 
the first nuggets from the enormous gold mine of 
moving-picture communications. It Is communica- 
tions which distinguishes a society from a mere aggre- 
gate of individuals, and humanity has great need of 
trans-verbal communications like film/TV to estab- 
lish a world society (which, of course, must depend on 
trans-verbal communications). The media, because 
their communication is so rich and deep, can also 
increase the social cohesiveness of individual cultures. 
It is the purpose of White Ox to develop and make 
public whatever technology and knowledge is needed 
to place these media completely in the hands of the 

One night in January 1965, my roommate dragged 
me to see some "experimental films (whatever the hell 
they were) by some West Coast "bohemian" (at 
that time "hippies" had not yet replaced "beatniks") 
named Stan Brakhage. The showing was at the Cam- 
bridge Public Library. After a rather wordy introduc- 
tion by a local self- proclaimed film afficionado {and 
Brakhage's quick put-down of him), we saw "Dog 
Star Man", and a couple of Brakhage's other films. 
(I am giving this history to show what the scene was 
like in those days. In Cambridge, one of the country's 
leading intellectual centers, Brakhage was playing 
and speaking before a house of maybe 75 people!) I 
was absolutely transfixed by the films. They showed 
me how I could work the Image streams in my head 
directly onto the screen and not have to grapple with 
an abstract language like poetry to describe them on 
the printed page. 

I dropped out of school, took a night course at 
Boston University, bought an 8mm camera (this was 
before Super 8), and started shooting like mad. I must 
have shot about 5000 feet of 8mm film in two months. 
Through the course at Boston University and this 
intensive shooting in 8mm, I got a good grasp of how 
to use image structures, i.e., montage editing, and 
how to use the camera to get abstract effects. Between 
'65 and '67, I made a couple of films using an 8mm 
Bolex and had them blown up to 16mm. They were 
done from script, but all the fades, dissolves and 
complex matteing was done in camera. A sound- 
track, including voice-over poetry and avant-garde 
jazz, was mixed at the M.I.T. radio station and put 
onto one of the films titled "Stasis." 

Quite by accident, this film was screened at a 
colloquium of senior M.I.T. Humanities majors, and 
subsequently I was able to return to school and make 
a film for my thesis. I even got a small grant which 
covered stock costs and the construction of a special 
machine that allowed me to pre-program complex 
fades in the field and thus attain complete control 

David Tulbert is the founder and director of White Ox 
Films, Inc. 

by David Tulbert 

over visual rhythm. I was, and am, very concerned 
with the question of control of the medium's sub- 
stance. I worked from graphic scripts and used the 
machine to implement them. The idea was that the 
film went directly from my head onto a graphic script 
that specified all the details of camera movement, 
image intensity, etc. , on paper. In this way, I avoided, 
during the creative process, any interference from the 
machinery of filmmaking. The shooting and editing 
processes were merely the mechanical implementation 
of that "ideal" as expressed in the script. 

The film went way over budget (it was 27 minutes 
long) and was never completed, though I still have the 
script, the original footage, and the machine. My 
thesis advisor accepted the script, the machine and 
raw footage as satisfying the requirements of my 
thesis, and I graduated in 1969. 

During the period 1967 to '70, I also got involved 
in the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at M.I.T. 
and worked under Gyorgy Kepes as a graduate stu- 
dent. I did some kinetic sculpture design and a lot of 
investigation of the topic of mathematical aesthetics. 
Since Pythagoras' time, this has been a field of study 
that has woven through the history of art. I studied In 
great depth Joseph Schillinger's MATHEMATICAL 
BASIS OF THE ARTS, which was very enlightening 
because It proved the idea that artistic structure could 
be abstractly described In mathematical language 
with great versatility and elegance. Moreover, these 
structures can then be applied equally well to all the 
arts including music, dance, sculpture and, of course, 
film. It was particularly interesting because it pro- 
vided a rational descriptive language that could be 
used to unify the rhythms, camera movements, etc., 
in a film. The system could also unify the tonal quality 
and rhythm of the soundtrack with the image struc- 
ture. It was possible because of the generalness of 
Schillinger's approach to do all this rationally with a 
high degree of well-formedness (in the aesthetic sense) 
and without resorting to "Micky-Mousing"; i.e., cre- 
ating a too literal correlation between the rhythms and 
moods of the sound and those of the picture. 

With Kepes' help, and a good deal of internal 
politicking, I managed to obtain access to a very 
sophisticated graphics computer that would create 
images in real-time. After a few months of struggling 
through the programming manuals, I managed to 
make a programming that would accept as input 

numerically described structures and could apply 
them to the rate of movement, angular trajectory, and 
distances of images. Our images were a set of eight 
spheres which moved in three dimensions, kind of like 
3-D billiards. I did a good deal of experimenting with 
this system by using different sets of Schillinger 
structures as well as random numbers, and noting the 
results. The results proved conclusively that for the 
great majority of viewers, Schillinger's system would 
harmonize the movements and create pleasing and 
beautiful movies. Of course, our images were purely 
in the abstract realm, but the important thing was 
that the system increased the filmmaker's structural 
vocabulary enormously. Moreover, it gave the film- 
maker a rational system for creating and using struc- 
tures to control image streams or modulations that cut 
across the boundaries of music/film. It also allowed 
the artist, without cramping his or hei style, to 
harmonize pans, zooms, fades, live action, etc. The 
system, once grasped, makes possible the creation of 
highly well-formed structures. 

I would have very much liked to continue this 
research, but there were other forces acting in my life 
leading me in a new direction. Someone gave me THE 
THREE PILLARS OF ZEN by Philip Kapleau and, 
after reading it and trying some meditation, I felt a 
strong attraction to Zen. I sold all my possessions and 
moved to Rochester to study Zen (which explains why 
White Ox is in Rochester). 

Since we're really talking about film here and not 
Zen, I will by-pass what proved to be an intensive 
three year learning experience. I learned that it was 
necessary for me to act from an ego-less, uninvolved 
state, especially with respect to my art, and to serve 
mankind according to my particular predilection but 
without concern for my "self. 

Out of these realizations came the desire to work 
again on film. The result was that I formed White Ox 
Films, which became incorporated in 1972. The gov- 
ernment provided us with a corporate seal, but not 
much else. We began by putting on an exhibition 
series of fine feature films and experimental shorts. 
The project was a joint effort with the local art gallery 
which had enough of a budget to pick up any deficit 
the project might incur. Through this program, which 
was, by and large, successful, we began to establish a 
"track record". I say "by and large" successful 
because at that time there was no art-film interest in 

White Ox Director David Tulbert emphasizes point at Film Art 

Independent GAZETTE /July. 1976/21 

Todd Spenee edits 16mm film at Cinemedia. 

Rochester, at least for current works, and certainly no 
interest in experimental filmmaking. But we pulled in 
reasonable numbers of people and almost broke even. 
Meanwhile, we had applied to the New York State 
Council on the Arts (NYSCA) for funds for two 
projects, Film Farm, an intensive eight week summer 
workshop for gifted high school students, and Sum- 
mer Dreams, a series of free outdoor films that were 
selected to stimulate feelings of brotherhood and joy 
in the audience. They were popular films, such as 
"Yellow Submarine", but were chosen quite carefully. 
The films were preceded by experimental shorts. The 
Highland Bowl of Rochester, where the films were 
screened, is a large outdoor natural amphitheatre 
located in a park. There are benches for about 600 
people and room on the grass for about ten thousand 
more. Because we had a bit of a track record, because 
NYSCA liked the ideas, and because Peter Bradley 
(director of NYSCA's Film/TV department) had met 
with us and determined that we were a reasonably 
together group, we got the grant and did the pro- 
grams. Both were very successful. Thousands at- 
tended the films and the students in Film Farm got a 
very fine, creatively oriented film course. 

The idea behind these two projects was that we 
would start small and have a "shake-down cruise" to 
see if we could really do projects. We wanted to do this 
before we locked ourselves into any year-long con- 
tracts that we might not be able to fulfill. However, we 
weat through a period of severely lacking funds 
because the funds were just not there to pay salaries 
after the summer. But we accepted that as one of 
those little sacrifices you have to make. 

The following year, we proposed a lot of education- 
al programs and a full year of exhibition programs 
including another edition of Summer Dreams. What 
we did not know was that NYSCA's policy towards 
educational programs had changed, and so about 
$50,000 of the $62,000 we requested was denied. We 
went to Albany and met with Peter Bradley to explore 
some of the other directions we wanted to move in and 
came up with the idea of a resource center like MERC 
in New York. I believe that Peter had been looking for 
a group to provide such services upstate and we were 
fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. 

In any case, it wasn't until the tail end of the 
'74/'75 funding cycle that the grant for the establish- 
ment of the resource center (Cinemedia Resource 
Center) came through, and so the project didn't really 
get underway until July of '75. Since that time, 
additional funds have been appropriated towards the 
support of the center, and we have numerous pro- 
grams now in operation, all aimed at helping indepen- 
dent filmmakers and at educating novices to become 
more proficient as filmmakers. For example, we offer 
a free loan of the full gamut of Super-8 and 16mm 
production equipment, including double system sync 
sound in both guages, and we have the most complete 
post-production facility in upstate New York. We also 
offer technical workshops that train people in how to 
use equipment to make films, and Film Art seminars 
which, through intensive analysis of short experimen- 
tal and other works, show filmmakers how to use the 

basic equipment and techniques at their disposal to 
make their films more artistically sound. 

Of course, the real problem up here is the problem 
of geography. There is about as strong an indepen- 
dent scene upstate as there is in New York City, but 
here it's spread over 10,000 square miles. This makes 
the distribution of services, such as workshops and 
equipment loans, very difficult. Even worse, there 
isn't really the sense of a cohesive filmmaking com- 
munity since everybody is so spread out. These are 
serious problems that have to be solved. They are 
important because, if you look at the national picture, 
you see that there are a lot of regions like ours with a 
few population centers and a lot of farmland, all 
spread out over a very large geographic region. We 
think of our region as a pilot, since New York State Is 
ahead of most other states In funding projects like 
Cinemedia Resource Center, and we are working very 
hard to organize and create communications between 
filmmakers and film groups in the region. We are 
starting to form a Film Circle in every county within 
our 27-county service region, and when this network is 
complete, we will be able to distribute services easily 
and thoroughly across the whole 27 counties we serve. 
This is a big undertaking, but a necessary one if 
independent film is going to survive and grow. 

We feel very strongly that for the long-term growth 
of our society it is necessary to begin using moving- 
picture communications, and what we are doing with 
Cinemedia is a first step in that direction. Before I go 
into detail about what 1 think the future holds for 
White Ox. Cinemedia, and the independent scene as a 
whole, I'd like to give a list of all the services our 
resource center currently provides: 
Free loan of Super-8 and 16mm production 

Free access to post-production facilities, includ- 
ing horizontal table, interlock mixing, projec- 
tion, and dubbing facilities. 
Low cost ($3.00 per night) housing for out-of- 
town users. 
A revolving cycle of production workshops. 
A weekly film art seminar (soon we will tape 
these and distribute them to the film guilds). 
Monthly visiting artists, including workshop 
and lecture oriented sessions within the same 
A bi-monthly "Cinemedia Newsletter", a four 

page tabloid with a circulation of 6000. 
Special seminars in either technical or non- 
technical aspects of filmmaking (in response 
to the requests of our constituents). 
An active film guild program designed to estab- 
lish a regional network of filmmaking centers. 
A regional co-ordination effort aimed at tying 
existing local film centers within the region 
together and to Cinemedia. 
The beginnings of a regional film contest, with 
prizes and everything? 

It is appropriate to mention here that these 
programs are partially funded by the NYSCA and the 
National Endowment for the Arts. The cooperation of 
the Film and Media departments of these agencies 

and the appropriations they have made for the activi- 
ties of White Ox have been instrumental in accom- 
plishing the work we are doing here. 

* * * 

And now to the future. 

In watching and working at the growth of Cine- 
media (which has definitely been an uphill climb and 
will continue to be so), several things have become 
apparent about the economics and kinetics of inde- 
pendent film production. These observations indicate 
some specific directions we feel will be most produc- 
tive in achieving the goals (low cost, fast turnaround, 
high versatility equipment, open and interested distri- 
bution markets to provide subsistence and capital for 
further work, better communications among our- 
selves, etc.) which will aid independent filmmaking. 
First, I think it is important to consider what 
independent filmmaking really means. Ultimately, 
Independent filmmaking and public access can and 
should be the same concept. Someone with a beef who 
simply wants to talk in front of a camera would, 
perhaps, if he or she had had the benefit of a lot of 
media-communications training in high school, want 
to make a more elaborate and impactful statement on 
film. At the present state of the art, because of the 
high costs and large hassles in production, persons 
like that, no matter how much innate visual capability 
they might possess, would be quickly discouraged 
from trying their hands. As a result, only the most 
dedicated and/or compulsive people are willing to 
devote their lives to independent production. Certain- 
ly things should be done to make production easier for 
these independents. But how many other people are 
out there who would rather write, paint or dance 
because of the hassles of film production? You really 
can't blame them; it is a big hassle. BUT IT DOES 

I discussed at the beginning of this article the 
importance of moving-picture communications to our 
society and to the world as a whole. Let me anchor 
that point more firmly and expand on it a bit to show 

Fact: The media are basically storage mechanisms 
for information, so that it can be broadcast or project- 
ed at a later date. 

Fact: The communications process in any medium 
is a process of externalizing (and perhaps encoding) 
the information from a human mind onto a medium. 
Fact: A good 16mm film transmits 24,000 times as 
much information in a given period of time as does the 
print medium (based on a reading speed of 300 words 
per minute, and a "talking head" type image in which 
only 1% of the information in each new frame is 

Fact: It is precisely this high information rate that 
makes production such a pain because it requires 
money and labor to transfer information. But: 

Fact: It is precisely this high information rate that 
makes moving picture communications the goldmine 
of resources they are for mankind. 

Fact: Current production technology, no matter 
how sophisticated it may appear on the surface, is 
really about 30 years outdated. If we are talking about 
film and art as information, then we should be 
thinking about film production as information- 
manipulation and not twiddling with cameras and 
broken wires, replacing fuses, and paying highly over- 
priced technicians to do the more complex of these 
manipulations for us (such as optical printing or 
computer animation). 

Fact: The reason the technology is so outdated and 
expensive is because 99.9% of the total American 
hardware pool is used by the networks, Hollywood, 
and other commercial interests, and their profit- 
margin is so enormous that they don't care if it costs 
them an extra million or so to produce a film. Thus, 
the industry has not provided equipment manufac- 
turers with sufficient economic incentive to really get 
the technology up to date. 

The result is economic discrimination against the 
Independent and person-on-the-street (whether Inten- 
tional or not) and, consequently, a lack of Interest in 
the audio-visual arts by a lot of very creative people. 
There are other factors making the argument stronger 
that can also be brought in here, but these facts give 
the basic picture. 

How do we change all this? One possible solution 

22 /July, 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

would be to prevail upon our federal congress to 
recognize the importance and necessity of indepen- 
dent film and what it can evolve into if given enough 
funds. Hopefully, the funds would shortly thereafter 
follow. But what kinds of funds are we talking 
about — how much? If you talk about the medium 
with its current tools, you'll need funds for equip- 
ment, stock, lab costs, etc., etc. You all know what 
independent budgets look like. Using New York State 
as an example, we would need about ten {10) times the 
amount of funds currently available from NYSCA to 
make a good beginning. That's about (I believe) $20 
million per year. Multiply by 50 states and you get $1 
billion per year. That's heavy money. 

If the feds can pour tens of billions of dollars into 
energy research, which they've identified as a primary 
national need, then why shouldn't they do it for 
film/TV? The media have an enormous impact on our 
lives; they are the primary sources of food for the 
mind. So, even if there should be $1 billion a year, we 
won't get it. The reason is that it's an ongoing, year 
after year expense, and would continue like the 
defense budget (God forbid), ad infinitum. Not to 
mention the effect of inflation on our mere $1 billion. 
And don't forget that $1 billion is just a start. 

If you look at the technology which supports film 
production, however, you realize that it doesn't have 
to be that way. The distribution side is already 
opening up, due to the advent of cable and video disc. 
Again, commercial incentive has been the main eco- 
nomic spur to development, so don't look for an 
upgrade in programming content or better access for 
yourself. However, a guy I recently met at the Nation- 
al Science Foundation told me that within five or ten 
years we would have fibre-optic/laser cable networks 
capable of carrying 500 to 1000 simultaneous chan- 
nels. That's impressive. At that level, your indepen- 
dent productions might get shown. 

Ah, but back to the crucial point: IF YOU CAN 
AFFORD TO PRODUCE THEM. Nothing is being 
done to upgrade the technology of film production to 
the level paralleled by distribution technologies such 
as video disc and fibre-optics. And the industry isn't 
likely to because they'd just as soon maintain control 
by keeping the public at a severe economic disadvan- 
tage when it comes to A/V art and communications. 
They got a good ball game going, and despite the fact 
that the right of free speech is flagrantly violated by 
lack of adequate public access, they're not likely to 
give up their game if they can avoid it. 

What kind of technology are we really talking about 
developing here? What kind of production techno- 
logy? At White Ox, largley under the auspices of the 
Cinemedia project, we've put together a team of 11 
volunteer engineers and computer people to study this 
problem. What they tell us is that It Is possible with 
current technology to make a computerized TOOL 
(you run it, It doesn't run you) that would cut 
production costs by at least a factor of 10, increase 
versatility almost infinitely (since the computer can be 
almost instantly re-programmed), and decrease turn- 
around time for a complete complex experimental film 
from one year to several days. The machine would be, 
essentially, "transparent"; that is, you would not have 
to fumble with splicing tape, etc. The whole process 
would be entirely under your control, but all the work 
would be done by the computer. The manipulations 
you perform are in the pure information realm and 
don't require mechanical mechanisms which are slow, 
clumsy and expensive to operate. Transparency 
means, essentially, that you could make the film at 
the speed of your own thought processes, without 
fumbling with hardware. The only aspect that such a 
production machine would have in common with 
conventional production hardware is in the gathering 
of the raw images. You would use Super-8 or porta- 
pak as you wanted. The original would go in one end 
of the machine. You would twiddle the machine, and 
the final master would come out the other end. The 
machine, by the way, would enhance the image 
quality of the Super-8 or portapak output programs to 
better than 16mm or 2 inch VTR quality. That's really 
what updated technology would look like, and the 
amount of control and versatility would be 

A machine to do this would serve 30 users simul- 
taneously, would be located in an access center, or 

perhaps a library, and would cost about $10 million. 
In a few years, the service could be piped into your 
home, and in 30 years or so, you could buy one for the 
price of a moog. 

It seems more likely that the government would go 
for this significant upgrading of the hardware and 
consequent significant decreasing of production costs 
instead of that perpetual $1 billion per year appropri- 
ation; first of all, they get hardware for their money 
and, more importantly, it would be a one-shot ex- 
pense every 20 years or so rather than every year. Now 
let's see: 100 of these machines at $10 million apiece 
comes out to $1 billion. So in one year, presuming the 
prototype were developed, you could build a network 
of these visual synthesizers across the country. That 
$1 billion goes a lot farther than spending it on the 
present outmoded, highly expensive production tech- 

There are two things to be added. First of all, such 
a center would have staff programmers to work with 
artists in making new types of image manipulations 
that had never been made before. Once a new pro- 
gram has been written, it can be easily given to the 
other 99 centers. So, through group effort, the level of 

visual literacy in the country would consequently 
begin to grow very rapidly. 

Secondly, the educational wing would have access 
(perhaps their own set of machines for training pur- 
poses) so that within 20 years we would have a youth 
that was really visually literate, and who could, as they 
made their way into society, begin to implement 
highly sophisticated visual communications as part of 
our daily lives. 

That about wraps it up. The solution to the public 
access problem, and to your problems as an Indepen- 
dent, lies not only In more funds but In better 
production equipment to keep pace with the rapid 
technological expansions taking place In the distribu- 
tion technologies. 

Well, this has been fun writing. By all means, 
please get in touch — the more feedback, the better. 
Here is White Ox's address and phone number: 
David Tulbert 
White Ox Films, Inc. 
308 Laburnum Crescent 
Rochester, N.Y. 14620 

And if you're up this way, call up so we can get 
together: (716) 442-4080. 

1^73* A 

"It's ten o'clock. Do you know 
where your soundwoman is 
tonightf rt ~ 


AIVF warns people who are submitting scripts 
to be wary of the release form currently being 
used by the William Morris Agency. Covenants 
in this release form grant to Morris the non- 
exclusive right to use any materials submitted 
to them. The fee to be paid for the materials 
would be decided on at a later date by an 
arbiter, calculated on the basis of the fair 
market value of non-exclusive rights to the 
materials on the date the release form was 
signed. The creative artist could encounter dif- 
ficulty with a producer who, at a later date, 
wants to acquire exclusive rights to the materi- 
als, since Morris already holds non-exclusive 

right to his or her script. 

AIVF protested to Morris a previous release 
form nine months ago. That form contained 
two clauses which we thought unfair to artists: 
the first clause purported to grant Morris im- 
munity from any claim that Morris unlawfully 
used the material submitted; the second clause 
purported to value the artist's material at $250 
in the event the first clause did not hold up in 

The first release form was unconscionable 
and utterly unenforceable as against public 
policy. The new release form is harsh, but it 
may well be enforceable. 

Independent GAZETTE/July. 1976/23 


A Review bv Charles Levine 

Rain falls on the railroad tracks. Thunder is heard 
and lightning flashes across the sky. Then, in a series 
of shots in which rain, fog and steam blend into one 
great and powerful railroad engine, emerging from a 
tunnel as if being born, whole, complete in every 
detail, a resounding triumphal chorus rises on the 
sound track and Victoria Hochberg's film masterpiece 
Metroliner begins. 

In ancient times, the gods were visualized riding 
chariots across the sky. The place of man-made 
objects in the human psyche is related to the period 
in history in which they appear. Cars, rockets and 
airplanes have today filled some of this psychic 
space. The railroad train, from its very beginnings in 
the early 19th century, held a magnetic attraction for 
the imagination. The movement and power of trains 
took on meanings above and beyond the practical 
need to move people and merchandise from place to 

In both conscious and unconscious ways, trains 
were identified with the old mythology, but they were 
also part of a new mythology. The mythology of 
triumphal technology. Railroad engines were given 
names such as Jupiter, Mars and Vulcan, a symbolic 
connection to an old mythology; these same engines 
represented perhaps the single most advanced ac- 
complishment in the mechanical technology of the 
19th century. 

A new religion of technology emerged with a trans- 
formed and upgraded psychic vision of power and 

Charles Levine has been making films for over fifteen 
years. (Steps, Horseopera). In 1975, he helped found 
Independent Cinema Artists and Producers (ICAP). 

I began in the theatre by giving puppet shows of my 
own devising to every class in the fifth grade at P.S. 
76. I also won a Fulbright Scholarship to study Mime, 
but threw it all aside for film. I have worked for 
network television (NET, ABO on both documentary 
and dramatic films, first as an Editor, then a Direc- 
tor/Producer. "Metroliner" was made with a grant 
which allowed me freedom to experiment with form 
and images and to work through ideas in ways that 
were not possible in my previous television experience. 


temples of worship were built all over America. 
Many of these were styled like Greek and Roman 
temples and, so that no one would be confused, they 
were called railroad stations. Metroliner shows the 
railroad station, or what I call temples, in just the 
right context. The grandeur and sweep of the stair- 
ways, the monumental pillars and arches, are like 
the stage set in the MGM version of The Wizard of 
Oz. In the MGM film, Dorothy and her friends are 
in the wizard's palace when the voice of Oz is heard 
and a vision of Oz emerges through a cloud of steam. 
In Metroliner, Victoria Hochberg has succeeded in 
bringing to life the mythological dream of the rail- 
road train. It is a life that has a ghostly quality to it. 
Spirits such as those in Dicken's "A Christmas 
Carol," the ghosts of past, present and future, in- 
habit the film. 

The train rushes forward, leaps across the land in 
beautiful, effortless strides. The camera angles are 
varied; our point of view shifts from within to outside 
the train and to high in the air. The use of different 
film stocks, such as high-contrast negative, evoke 
textural variation. 

The Metroliner is a train which runs between 

Boston and Washington, through the heart of Mega- 
lopolis. One quality of Victoria Hochberg's film is the 
visual intensity with which the landscapes of Mega- 
lopolis are portrayed. Metroliner is a true synthe- 
sis of two of the central styles of American film: 
avant-garde/poetic and documentary. The crisp, 
clear and honest imagery and editing and the forth- 
right portrayal of the people at work attest to the 
influence of the American documentary. But as the 
train seems to become a mythological being and take 
on a life of its own, Metroliner soars into the realm 
of the poetic film. 

The Metroliner reaches Washington, D.C., and we 
see the engineer, documentary- style, in the cab of the 
train. The film reaches its climax as a mystical 
super-train consisting of three steam engines abreast, 
travels right down the center of Pennsylvania Avenue 
with a Presidential motorcade and a formation of 
planes overhead. The image is superbly blended with 
the dome of the U.S. Capitol and the Washington 
Monument to become an American capitol of our 
dreams. This hauntingly beautiful film ends as the 
engineer checks his watch and departs; for him it 
was just another work-day. 

/ am not a train buff. In fact, the modern Metro- 
liner is not even a very beautiful object. But trains 
move, and this was the starting point for the film. I 
was interested in the train as a vehicle that might 
carry me to another realm, and I liked the railroad as 
a symbol of THE American industry. The film ex- 
plores the dimensions of an object, revives the ghosts 
that hang around the Northeast Corridor, and makes 
a comment about where the free enterprise system has 
taken us. VH 

24 /July, 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

The Closet Machinist 

Modifying a Half-Inch Sony Video Camera 

Every time I purchase a piece of film or video 
equipment the first thing I always want to do is take it 
home and change it. I don't know whether this is my 
own personal identity problem or simply a reaction to 
poor design. I always like to think it is the latter; it is 
probably a little of both. 

To satisfy my custom lust I have amassed over the 
years a modest machine shop which includes a drill 
press, hand drill, hack saws, files, nuts and bolts, a 
machinist's angle, calipers and a vise as well as an 
assortment of materials from that great place we all 
love. Canal Street. These materials include all types of 
rubber, plastic and aluminum to be used for light- 
weight construction, foam that can be wrapped 
around things, materials that stick to things, stick to 
other thifigs, provide a firmer grasp for holding, make 
the feel of an object softer, etc, etc. I have fabricated a 
little do-dads for my movie camera for years and have 
designed and built no less than six or seven different 
types of handles for it before coming to what I 
considered to be the right solution. 

My enthusiasm for mechanics, design and materi- 
als may be common to many camera technicians in 
film just as electronics seems to be for soundfolks. I 
confess that I know nothing about electronics and like 
to keep it that way because it always looked so 
complicated, because I was always very poor in math- 
ematics, and finally, if I don't know anything about it 
I don't have to "deal" with it. On the other hand, I 
consider myself "good with my hands" and have 
certain strong ideas about design. This background is 
by way of an introduction to the story of my latest 
project involving the modification of the Sony one-half 
inch AV 3450 video camera. (Figure #1.) 

To get right to the point, the only fixtures on a hand 
held film or video camera that belong in front of your 
face are the lens, the viewfinder and possibly a 
handle. All the rest of the camera should be some- 
where behind you. It has taken film and video camera 
designers years to finally come to this conclusion. It 
would have taken less time if the designers had ever 
used the products they designed. But we all know they 
don't. They are, however, finally getting the message. 

Certain video cameras now have an adjustable 
viewfinder on the side instead of at the back, and in 
16mm, Jp. Beauviala has designed a movie camera 
which satisfies every design requirement that I could 
conceive of. The problem is that it will cost you about 
as much as a modest home in the country. 

The Sony AV 3450 video camera has an acceptable 
design if you're doing home video. If you take the 
images you shoot more seriously, then it's another 
story. The first thing I realized after I bought one was 
that for my purposes the zoom lens that comes with 
the camera was 1. too limited in the zoom range in 
both telephoto and wide angle, 2. did not focus close 
enough and 3. that it zoomed in a different direction 
than I was used to. Since I have a sizeable comple- 
ment of 16mm film lenses, I decided to use them on 
the camera instead. I borrowed a "CA1" (Eclair) to 
"C" adapter from a friend so the lenses would fit on 
the Sony camera. This solved my lens problem by 
giving me a focal length range of 5.7mm to 120mm. 

But the utilization of film lenses created yet another 
problem. The zoom lenses weigh practically as much 
as the video camera itself, and with them and the 
camera body all hanging out the front, the weight 
becomes unbearable in a very short time. A body 
brace doesn't solve the problem because it constricts 
movement and is apt to be responsible for the record- 
ing of your own breathing on the tape. 

So the solution became simply to put the camera 
body back on the shoulder. This meant that the 
viewfinder tube would have to be taken out and 
mounted somewhere forward and to the left of the 
camera body. 

I toyed with the idea of having the viewfinder tube 

Ted Churchill is a cinematographer and the editor of 
the GAZETTE. They took away his Erector Set when 
he was a boy and he never recovered. 

by Ted Churchill 

separate from the body, connected only by a cable 
which incorporated the high voltage cable and all con- 
necting wires (of which there are about twelve or 
thirteen). The viewfinder tube could then be mounted 
to be worn on my head, leaving the camera totally 
flexible and mobile. I rejected this solution for two 
reasons. First, a friend had actually done this and 
reported that the image in the viewfinder was substan- 
tially less sharp than it had been originally. Since it is 
more difficult to find focus with one-half inch video 
cameras than 16mm film cameras, this solution was 
unacceptable. Second, the connecting cable would 
always be vulnerable to damage and that kind of 
problem I didn't need. 

So I decided to keep both the camera body and the 
viewfinder in one solid (but adjustable) unit. 

The design of the housing and support of the 
viewfinder system had to fulfill several requirements. 
First, it would have to be in a position far in front of 
the camera body, but not so far as to enter the frame 
of the picture if an extreme wide angle lens were used. 
Second, it had to be mounted firmly but in such a way 
that the camera could be held under the arm, in the 
lap or on the ground without losing the ability to look 
through the viewfinder. Third, the connecting cables 
and wires would have to be protected from possible 
damage during use. Finally the whole unit (housing 
and support) would have to be mounted on the 
camera body in such a way that it would not only be 
rugged but also have the capacity to be taken apart 
without too much difficulty, should the camera need 
service or repair. 

Wisely, I never planned to wire up the modification 
myself. After some research, I contacted a fellow who 
was a sound technician and television engineer and 
who was willing to do the job. 

He suggested that I incorporate the connecting 
wires within the mounting structure to avoid damage 
(to both the wires and to myself through a shock). He 
stressed, above all, that my total design must allow 
him enough room to work at the wiring. 

Onward and upward! The first challenge was to 
find an aluminum box in which to house the viewfind- 
er tube. I found a th'in aluminum chassis box at an 
electronics store, the top and sides of which pulled off 
in one unit. Perfect. I bought two, in case I screwed 
up the first one. As it turned out I used both by 
mounting them bottom to bottom, cutting down the 
lower one to house the electronics that are part of the 
viewfinder system directly below the tube in the 
camera body. The two chassis also gave the whole unit 
more strength. (Figure 1, #1.) 

I incorporated the on/ off switch into the housing 
(Figure 1, #3). This is actually the wrong place for the 
switch, as it should be in the handle, but it fit so 

neatly into the housing that at the time I could not 
resist putting it there. 

Next I cut the eyepiece assembly off the original 
plastic back plate of the camera body and mounted it 
on the new viewfinder housing (Figure 1, #9) so that it 
could be flipped urf or not as originally intended. 

For the supporting arm of the housing I chose 1" 
square hollow aluminum tubing out of which I built 
an "L" coming forward from the top of the camera 
body and making a turn to the left for 5". At the end 
of this "L" was mounted the viewfinder housing 
(Figure 1, #4, 8, 10, 2). The elbow of the "L" had to 
be reinforced as this was the point of most stress. I cut 
a hole at the elbow to facilitate the wiring job through 
the "L" (Figure 1. #10). 

The next challenge was mounting the housing and 
support "L" on the camera body itself. Due to the 
design of the body this was difficult. The entire 
electronics mechanism of the camera is mounted on a 
very small interior chassis and there is very little room 
inside to work. Furthermore the exterior plastic shell 
could not support any weight without breaking. 

The solution simply became to build an exterior 
chassis using all the existing screws which held the 
camera together and which were tapped into the in- 
terior chassis. This exterior chassis took the form of 
an inverted "U" running from the front of the camera 
body, across the top, and down the back (Figure 1, 
#11). It is mounted with two screws in the front, one 
on each side of the lens and two into an aluminum 
piece which covers the back and becomes part of the 
"U". On the front right side of the "U" I mounted a 
right angle which would later become part of the 
adjustable handle system (Figure 1, #5. 6). On the top 
of the "U" I mounted two hollow square pieces that 
were just slightly larger in diameter than the "L" so 
that the "L" could slide back and forth through them. 
This in turn permitted the viewfinder housing to move 
forward and back depending on whether the eyepiece 
was flipped up or down or should an extreme wide 
angle lens be used. 

Next I mounted the viewfinder housing at the end of 
the "L" so that it could be turned up ninety degrees to 
a vertical position and locked into place. The camera 
could then be used in numerous positions, as well as 
on the shoulder when the viewfinder was horizontal. 

Next problem: the mounting of the handle. Need- 
less to say the original handle had been taken off and 
this left a reasonably flat surface on the bottom of the 
camera body with plenty of original screw holes from 
which to work. 

For the handle support I mounted a flat aluminum 
plate on the bottom and attached to it one of my own 
special little home-built do-dads which permit a rod to 
slide through and tighten down. I put another one 
of these near the front mounted on the right side of 
the "U" (Figure 1, ttS). Through these two I ran an 
aluminum rod (the same one that keeps your book 
shelves on the wall). To this I attached a handle from 
a Bolex 16mm camera which I drilled out to reduce 
weight (Figure 1, #6). The handle slides back and 
forth for balance and comfort, depending on one's 

Since I had to be able to mount the camera on a 
tripod (in tired moments) I reinforced the aluminum 
piece on the left side by drilling the hole about three 
inches left of center of the camera body at the extreme 
front. This position for the tripod hole made the 
camera perfectly balanced when on a tripod, as the 
viewfinder housing adds a lot of weight on the left and 

Time to try it out for balance on the shoulder. No 
good. The camera had a tendency to fall to the left as 
a result of the weight of the viewfinder housing. 

I decided to add one more piece (a habit I try not to 
fall into) that would be mounted through the tripod 
hole left of center, rest just below the neck and 
provide a little support on the left side. If you have 
read this far you undoubtedly have been wondering 
what #7 is and that's it. This piece must be detached 
when the camera is mounted on a tripod, and that's 

Independent GAZETTE/Jufy. 1976/25 

The Closet Machinist continued 

why the habit of mounting pieces after the fact is bad. 
Aside from that drawback it functions perfectly. 

A final word on the wiring. The person who did the 
job shall remain nameless, because after the wiring 
was finished he told me that he would not do it again 
if he had to. At least not on a small camera like mine. 
I understand. He did a beautiful job; it looked as 
complicated as open-heart surgery, and the operation 
was a complete success. I had gotten many opinions 
that even if it could be done, the image in the 
viewfinder would not be sharp. As it turned out it is as 
sharp, if not sharper, than originally. 

The wiring took twelve to thirteen hours and cost 
two hundred dollars. The machining of the structure 
took, as near as I can guess, a week of solid work on 
my part as well as more than a little thought. All told 
it is worth it, except it really should have been done on 
a color camera. But that's next. 

And last, but not least, as you can see, I put my 
name on it (Figure 1, #12). Q 

Introduction to Video continued 

little time as possible is spent on the expensive quad 
format. Of course the 3 /<" "off-line" master is in 
many instances the final form and there is no need to 
go to quad. 

At the next lower level are the V* " cassette editing 
systems. Several of these should be looked at. Most 
cassette editing right now is done with Sony 2850's. 
These are high-quality cassette editing decks which 
feature vertical interval insert and assemble editing 
and dual audio channels. They can be operated 
manually or with some sort of automatic console 
between them to program them. Sony makes the 
RM 400 which edits accurately to about 5 frames 
1/6 second). TRI, a California company, makes the 
EA-5 system that is frame accurate (1/30 second) and 
features four search speeds with a visible picture 
similar to a moviola. A similar system is made by 
Convergence Corporation. Spectravision and Data- 
vision are two other manufacturers of automatic 
systems. The TRI, Sony and Convergence units count 
control track pulses to line up the edits. The Spectra- 
vision works from a crystal oscillator for accuracy. 
The Datavision is a highly sophisticated system that 
uses SMPTE time code and is the most expensive. 
Editing with 2850's using the Sony RM 400 runs 
about $40/hour. The TRI and Convergence systems 
run between $60 and $75/hour. Rates for the Spectra- 
vision and Datavision are unavailable at the present 
time. For those curious, the 2850's are $6000 apiece 
and the RM 400 is $1000. The TRI and Convergence 
are about $6000 apiece. The Spectravision is about 
$5000 and the Datavision sells for about $1 2,000. 

That pretty much covers cameras, decks and edit- 
ing systems in general use. There are others, but as of 
now they are not as widely used. Of course, by the 
time you finish this article, it will all probably be 
obsolete. Q 

Ed Lynch continued 

human first and intellectual second. 

My suggestions for a working definition are spiritu- 
al and therefore common, and are extrapolated from 
the tribal context. Many primitive people believed, 
and many still believe, that everything releases spirits. 
Within their daily lives they were, and again in some 
places are, conscious of the spiritual power and 
content of the people and objects around them. The 
witch doctor or medicine man was the person most in 
touch with the spirits. He or she had a powerful 
influence over the masks, the dances, the drumming, 
the paintings, and the construction of tribal rites and 
ceremonies. Now we are quite willing to call that part 
of their lives art and steal their objects as well. They, 
of course, did not have a concept of art. They had a 
concept of spirits which we have been anxious to call 
superstition. Their arts worked for them; they were 
neither decorative (they never would have thought of a 

museum) nor locked away. But they were carefully 
controlled. The painters were not permitted to draw 
certain shapes unless it was at the right time and the 
tribe was prepared to receive the spirits that the 
shapes and colors raised. The "artist" was re- 

Is it so astonishing to think that everything gives 
off spirits? I find it logical and satisfying. People are 
affected by objects, and especially by art. It does 
something to them. After such an experience they 
carry something away with them. They are infected as 
well as affected. It is possible for us to think about the 
spirits that our films and tapes raise. In fact it is 
imperative. We must know whether we are raising 
good or bad spirits, and to be responsible for passing 
them into the theaters and into the homes to our 

My own feeling is that the greatest art is infused 
with the highest spirits. We criticize art by saying that 
it is lifeless or by saying that it does not capture the 
spirit of the thing that it represents (excuse the 
assumption). Or we say that it has no power. These 
are useful spiritual perspectives that can be used by 
everyone. Unfortunately the history of art criticism is 
not spiritual but intellectual. 

Picasso is supposed to have complained to Malraux 
that people cannot "see" (my quotes) anymore than 
they can read Chinese. They go to school to learn 
Chinese, why can't they recognize their inability to see 
and begin to study? He is also supposed to have said 
that he didn't expect anyone to understand his work 
since he himself didn't understand where many of the 
images and ideas came from. So, logically, how could 
another person, no matter how scholarly, who must 
know him (Picasso) much less well than he knew 
himself, begin to tell the world about the meaning of 
his paintings? 

The truth of this statement is beside the point for it 
is a horrible place to begin. If his genius is undeni- 
able, his attitude is unforgivable. All people do "see" 
in their own way, admittedly with vastly different 
levels of perception and skill. Few artists would deny 
that children can "see" even if they lack a visual 
education and cannot naturally read Chinese. They 
acquire "lessons" about looking at things as they grow 
older that are damaging to the natural sensibilities. 
As treacherous and castrating as it is to insist that 
people are naturally inadequate to have an art experi- 
ence, the other statement is actually worse. Picasso 
would have had to agree that everyone has a mentality 
and a history. I call it a cultural template. Many of 
these experiences are common: the physicality of life, 
the topography of land and water, the character of 
plants and food and so on. It may not be possible for 
an artist to tell you the exact source of his or her work, 
but parts of it may strike familiar chords. At that 
point the audience is included rather than excluded. 
The genius of assembly, of selection, of techniques, 
and of subtleties of a thousand other kinds, may never 
be understood without a great deal of study and 
effort. But the art is understood first of all outside of 
the intellect. It is understood by the child through 
being naturally receptive, not by being trained. 

There is a lesson in the people's choices as even 
Walter Kerr insisted. They are rarely wrong about a 
play, and he took his model from the popular accept- 
ance of Shakespeare. I have to agree, though it may 
take centuries to really know. The Mona Lisa is 
acclaimed by millions. The Pieta, the David, the 
thousands of other great works of art evoke powerful, 
similar reactions in people that cut across cultural 
boundaries. The vocabulary may be extremely limit- 
ed, but the experience is not. 

Many people love Hitchcock without the foggiest- 
notion of film craft. The Sound of Music may be our 
Keane (the painter of the sad, big-eyed children) but 
people understand and like it. The spirits are familiar. 
It reaffirms family, music, loyalty and myth. It con- 
fuses people to read that it is a bad film when it makes 
them feel so good. (David Lean understands that idea, 
and by now has the confidence to ignore the critics.) 
They complain of a lack of artistry. They called 
Music a bad example of the art of film. It wasn't. 
It is a good film, good art. Good low art. The 
audience must be the final judge, not collectively, but 
individually. What they receive in spiritual terms is 
the essence of what they receive in art terms. If they 

are taught to respect their own reactions they will be 
harder to exploit. A personal experience excludes the 
critic first, allows analysis later. 

I am continually crazed by the thoughtless way that 
we create the world that we live in. It is thoughtless 
because it does not consider the fundamental effects 
of the thing, that is, the spiritual or art-of-life con- 
sequences. We, or I would rather say they, build one 
hundred floors exactly like one another straight up. It 
is an embarrassing homage to one plus one. They have 
not considered whether people would like to work 
there, or whether they would like to ride express-train 
elevators, or whether the capital resources are being 
fairly and properly used. The same mentality that 
constructs the terrible steel twins builds shopping 
centers (malls!), demeans through seductive ads and 
slick magazines our most beautiful women, uses 
mother-and-child to sell soap, and a promise of sexual 
prowess to sell cars. We know all these things, but we 
have been thinking about them as either inevitable or 
foolish but not really harmful excesses from the hard- 
charging business mentality. If we see these excesses 
as not foolish but damaging, then we have begun to 
see ourselves as fundamentally spiritual rather than 
mechanical. But what kind of trouble are we really in? 

We celebrate (and only slightly regulate) a vast 
legitimate drug industry that does not have the decen- 
cy to make sure that the people taking their drugs are 
not irreparably injured. We are only now beginning to 
understand the effects of the Pill. Drugs passed out 
twenty years ago are isolated as the cause of cancer in 
children. We put phones in our bedrooms, destroy our 
privacy and lovemaking, and then follow it with tele- 
vision. We build isolating and polluting cars and then 
destroy the places they can go by building giant 
highways to get there. We subsidize bridges and 
airports without attempting to find out what they do 
to our communities. We spend vast fortunes perfect- 
ing miraculous surgical techniques to repair defective 
hearts and almost nothing on environment and diet 
that might tell us why we have defective bodies to 
begin with. We build cheap, impersonal houses and 
then sell them as if they were the embodiment of the 
dream come true. We ask our Native Americans to 
leave their tents and move into our prefabs. They have 
the honesty to defecate in the tubs (we heard it on the 
news!) and we have the audacity to accuse them of 
being ungrateful and filthy besides. Our own cities are 
connected to silly vitrolite and water plumbing sys- 
tems which encourage us to pretend that the flushing 
of a toilet meant that the "problem" went away. And 
even with this enormously expensive system we short- 
circuit it with our dogs who grace the street with the 
best evidence of cowardly politicians and careless 
citizens. Our professional reporters shoot thousands 
of feet of disaster footage while sporting expensive 
equipment and expense accounts expecting the flood 
and fire victims will remember that the benefit of 
exposure to the American TV public is greater than 
the harm from the caloused indifference of the crews. 
Peter Davis put into his film, Hearts and Minds, that 
a Vietnamese peasant said, "First they bomb us, then 
they take pictures of us." 

Our bad economic decisions, our inhuman politics, 
our exploitative television, our violent and sexually 
explicit movies do not just inhabit the corporate 
offices, the studios and the theaters. They are ideas, 
bad spirits, powerful, inflamed things that infect our 
streets, our homes, and our very own lives. It would be 
and is a simple piece of logic for a witch doctor: the 
crazy white man is violating the spirit of life. 

A friend of mine told me that she used to work in 
one of the new giants at 51st Street and Sixth, in a 
center office with no windows. She rode a crowded 
subway twice each day, and gulped a little bit of 
"fresh" air between the stairway and her stone and 
steel tower. After a while she found that as she 
climbed out of the subway she began to cry. Her 
friends told her that she was too sensitive. Perhaps by 
putting our city into the hands of real estate specula- 
tors, engineers and accountants we have constructed a 
city for which in the long run we are all too sensitive. 

You see, buildings are not just buildings. Paintings 
are not just paintings, and television and film are not 
just media. Everything that we build, everything that 
we create, everything that we live with becomes day by 
day, hour by hour, our unshakable spiritual panners. 

26 /July. 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

If not in spiritual terms, what are the words which 
we will use to discuss and define our work? Techno- 
logical? Financial? Structural? Historical? We could 
leave it up to the critics to tell us what we are doing, 
but they would not be very helpful. They have been 
writing ads for the industry by and large, and there is 
little evidence that they have managed to uplift the 
form. In the tribal context, art was not defined. The 
artifacts that they used in their daily lives were under- 
stood to be spiritual. They were useful to create and 
control spirits. We would do well to be able to do the 

Is the world getting too difficult to stomach? 
Wassily Kandinsky, the painter, said that everything 
dead quivers. . .everything has a secret soul. Another 
painter, de Chirico, said that he tried to deal 
specifically with the spirits that a painting could 
evoke. The alchemists said that there is spirit in 
matter. This is just a smattering of much more 
evidence about spirit and art that exists for the 
student and to which you may go for additional 

Spirits do have religious implications hanging all 
over them like vines on an English mansion. Our 
technological approach to life tells us to be more 
interested in the "proof of plant energy through 
Kirlian photographs than to listen to the farmer 
explain how good it makes him feel to walk through a 
field of corn. A friend of mine suggested the word 
energy instead of spirits, either high or low, good or 
bad. I find it to be weaker, a less accurate substitute. 
Energy connotes something measurable, something 
scientific. Spirits are not. Energy means power. 
Spirits mean life. And they connect us to history and 
to a natural, life-oriented concept of art. 

In primitive cultures spirits are good and bad. 
Good spirits are encouraged. They are a vital part of a 
happy life. Too many bad spirits cannot be a part of a 
happy life. They cause misery, suffering and death. 
Very bad spirits must be exorcised. 

I first became interested in the Indian and tribal 
approach to art when shooting on Hearts and Minds 
at a Navajo reservation in the Southwest. We had 
been assured by a member of the family that we would 
be able to film a special ceremony. A young brave who 
had been expected to be a tribal leader had been to 
Viet Nam. On his return he had been unable to enter 
the family again. Their understanding of the problem 
was that while there he had been infected by bad 
spirits which still lived inside him. These spirits were 
destructive to him and to the tribe. "He never used to 
act that way before." An ancient exorcist ceremony 
would rid him of the bad spirits and return him to his 
family and to the tribe. After three days we left with- 
out having filmed the ceremony. There had been an 
understandable difference in intentions — our own 
ceremony was too remote and complicated to 
integrate into theirs without being destructive. 

Although I cannot testify to the effectiveness of the 
ceremony, it seemed to be tried and true, one that had 
the confidence of the tribe. The beauty of the ritual, 
as little as I was able to see, was that they knew what 
had to be done down to the last eagle feather, to 
achieve the desired results. Everyone believed that the 
ceremony would work. 

Unlike us, their most powerful leaders were also 
their healers. Our most skillful head doctors, our 
psychiatrists, have the unenviable job of patching up 
our psychic wounds when oddly enough they have no 
power, and have not demanded the power to change 
the conditions under which the people become 
mentally ill. Their skills may be in dispute, their 
theories are voguish, and they function as little better 
than litter bearers. Their advice is generally adaptive. 
So what will be our "message" as motion picture 
artists? Will our art function toward a spiritually 
healthy and progressive American Tribe? Can we 
think and speak about the effects of good and bad 
films and tapes? Can we talk about the damaging 
effects of pornography without being afraid that we 
will be accused of favoring censorship? Can we insist 
that the individual viewer has the right to his own art 
experience while we are still dependent on the critics 
to inform the public about the existence of our work? 
Can we ask the critics to consider the spiritual 
emanations from films and tapes to be more impor- 
tant than the intellectual content? Will we ask our- 

selves what spirits our work raises? Can we say that 
The Exorcist is a dangerous movie because of its care- 
lessness of its impact on the community? Can we work 
toward the separation of a legitimate theatrical 
construction and the deliberate poisoning of an 
audience? Aren't there at least a thousand similar 
questions that we should ask ourselves, the networks, 
and the major studios about the power of our 
infectious, pervasive medium and its effect on us, our 
parents and our children? 

We have watched some of the extraordinary 
exchanges between the titular government in Wash> 
ington and the real government, the Networks. We 
have seen flinty-hearted executives say that they do 
not know if there is a relationship between the 
violence on their programs and the violence in the 
streets. They both embarrass us and infuriate us. We 
know better. We have watched the frightening 
parallels. We know that our children, the kids on the 
street, and even ourselves mimic what we see on the 
video box. Our friends get sand-bagged bathing suits 
after seeing Jaws. We laugh it off and then read that 
Miami Beach geriatrics have stabbed a baby whale to 
death with their beach unbrellas when many times in 
the past they had pushed the poor beached babies 
back into the ocean. The umbrella bloodletting was a 
spontaneous, and probably unsuccessful attempt to 
exorcise the ads and the movie. 

Yes, we are exploitable. We are and can be infected 
by what we see and hear. Highly skilled Madison 
Avenue socio-psychological vivisectionists know how 
to locate, isolate, and use against us weakness after 
weakness, vulnerability after vulnerability, until we 
carry more of their messages than we do of our own. 
Their real enemy is the natural man who doesn't need 
enough to support the consumer economy and their 
elegant life-styles. We have the beginning, and, I 
passionately hope for, the eventual fall of our over- 
consumptive, wasteful economy. It is an international 
disgrace anyhow. We need to have, and we probably 
will get, a painful awakening. I can only hope that the 
pain will be shared more equally than it is now. For 
that to happen our leaders would have to begin to 
listen to spiritual advisors, not just economic advisors. 

The tribal artist, though unnamed in that role, and 
never just functioning as such, was at the focus of the 
spiritual health of day-to-day life. Perhaps that is the 
role that many of us wish to pursue. The difficulty of 
assuming that "job" is compounded by the fact that 
we are a generally splintered group where there is 
neither the resources to do what we now know how to 
do, nor the vocabulary and vision to think about doing 
something new. 

How could we get in touch with our personal am 
national spirits? First we must acknowledge the neces- 
sity to do so. We can ask ourselves and other artists 
questions about our work from that perspective. 
As independents our choices cannot be any simpler 
than our culture, no more pure than the Mississippi. 
But we are and will remain victims of the "culture" as 
long as we do not have a vision, as long as we do not 
have reliable magic of our own. We are moving, as we 
must, but we will not be a movement, we cannot be a 
force for change without the power that comes from 
understanding what we are all about. We need the 
historical energy that comes from ritual and the 
knowledge that comes from catechism. Right now we 
are rather rudderless. We have lost the mandate that 
came from the Woodstock magic. We could not raise 
a table with an anthem. The only real ritual that we 
know, and the one that we are more and more forced 
to use is, ". . .the way the industry works." 

The final, most brutal American criticism is that it 
doesn't work. It could be the seed for real revolution. 
We cannot expect a country that has built its "great- 
ness" on business and life-style to suddenly throw 
some huge switch and introduce spiritual and artistic 
priorities.* No one can know how things will change 

*I am sure that if our corporations believed that 
employee efficiency would be increased, they would 
build meditation booths in their lavatories. I suspect 
them of doing motivational research to figure out a 
way to replace the Horatio Alger myth with one that is 
a little bit more futuristic, like Citgo. How could 
something that worked for so few motivate so many 
for so long? 

any more than the way of a snake on a rock. I used to 
imagine some kind of revolution. Now it is more of a 
distant drum, an old fantasy. 

We must work to make sure that the hidden costs of 
our technologies, including motion pictures, are not 
the greatest ones: the costs in human terms. It is easy, 
and therefore tempting to admit that the lawyers, 
mechanics and accountants know better than we do. 
But we have learned and are learning that their 
cynical pragmatism can bring a slow, anesthetic death 
of the spirit that is just as crushing as a boa 
constrictor and just as paralyzing as a hatchet to the 

Change is inevitable. We must participate and not 
be victimized. We have the advantage of expertise in a 
most powerful communicator and art form. It is our 
technology that is constructing our future just as 
surely as if the TV shows and movies were giant 
I-beams being lifted into place to build the house in 
which we all must eventually live. How can we afford 
to create such a monstrous structure with endless 
energy that will be so much about our future lives 
without at least a vision, a clear, simple, believable 
idea? We can't, of course. 

My nightmare? That we, as a western, white 
culture, are lost, blinded, staggering around in a vast 
technological zoo, collecting wound after wound, 
tearing our way out of one mistake after another, 
looking every bit like a Mack Sennett comedy and 
dying every bit like real life. 

But my days have power over my nights and my 
nightmares. A graceful movement, a well-made tool, 
the laughter of a child — how can this not be art? How 
can it not be a lesson in the art of living? We have a 
serious and difficult challenge to enter and work 
within a life-giving process. We must understand the 
entire exploitative, technological and social power of 
our motion pictures so that we can return them to our 
audiences with spiritual and magical awareness. It 
can change their lives and ours as well. It must. 

I believe in a new time, a different way of working, 
sharing, and being. As independents we must have 
the patience and tenacity to insist on and achieve our 
own visions, images and sounds. We must rely on our 
own sensitivity and creativity because it is the source 
of our personal, artistic and cultural power. We need 
funding structures that are sufficiently visionary, 
cooperative projects, and working sets and location 
crews that develop humanity as well as efficiency. We 
need exhibition houses and distribution systems that 
will help us to reach new audiences as well as 
introduce present audiences to new ideas. The 
staggering cost of our art to us is miniscule next to the 
overwhelming cost of our national film-and-television 

In many ways we have managed to free ourselves 
from the problems of raw survival that were, and in 
some places still are, the daily bread of tribal life. It 
was a bondage, a true blood-wedding of the people to 
their animals and their land. But if we are more 
mechanically free, that does not mean that through 
ignorance or carelessness we can allow our own 
"marriages" to be bloodless. What good are our own 
great "achievements" if we don't care about them? 
What good are mammoth steel towers if they don't 
give us the joy of a good, old-fashioned barn building? 
What good is box-office when it is exploitative rather 
than sharing? How can we congratulate ourselves on 
ten million dollar pictures that play to packed houses 
or television shows that command millions of living 
rooms unless we know that they give life and not just 
another lesson in spiritual disease. 

We cannot allow the art of life to die within us and 
around us just because we have not taken the time to 
think about our work. We must connect to new ideas 
and spiritual attitudes about what we do. We know 
that we must bring our work to the people. We must 
do it with vision. We can be the motion picture witch 
doctors, medicine men and women, and we can ignite 
the imagination of our audiences. I believe it will 
happen. It will be a time of special magic on the silver 
and phosphor screens. 

The old, battered American Eagle must surrender 
to the older, much wiser Great Spirit to spawn a cele- 
bration which will thunder with the power of giant 
drums, the freedom of tribal dancing, and the electri- 
city of new, hot blood. You better believe it. Q 

Independent GAZETTE /July, 1976/27 

Letters to the Editor: 
Early Submissions 

Editor, Independent Gazette: 

In the November 17th, 1975 issue of the Village 
Voice, I noticed this ad: I would very much like the 
experience. Any tips for a prospective employee? 



U Needed immediately tor Off-Broadway 
U Call evenings 251-9269 

iii"i studio, 6 mos required & $200 
deposit No Pay. Send resume: Box8037 

VVBO University PINYC, 10003 

FuTrTlME Students OK.P/T 
Take orders for household 
M S6 hour potential 
"'" l PR BRUSH 682-6166 

Dedr Hopeful, 

Good luck! Just check with counsel beforehand to 
make sure you're not contravening the emancipation 

Editor, Independent Gazette: 

I heard somewhere that during the filming of a 
low-budget feature in New York last year a stuntman 
was required to crawl across a parking lot on his 
hands and knees with his face on fire and fall into the 
East River in the middle of winter. Do people really 
do those kinds of things for a living in movies? 



First of all, it's stuntperson. Second (in answer to 
your question) they don't. It's all done at the optical 

Editor, Independent Gazette: 

A friend of mine was told by a friend of hers that 
he knew some guy (I guess an experimental film- 
maker) who baked a roll of film in the oven after he 
had sprinkled some oregano on it. I think this is very 
far out but I'm wondering, was it any good (as a 

—Ben Gould 

Dear Ben, 

Apparently the film was quite good except that it 
was, of course, a one shot deal. At the end of the roll 
all the emulsion from the film had piled up in the gate 
of the projector. 

Not a Pretty Picture continued 

ings on a shoot can ruin everyone's spirit and, after 
all, spirit is mostly what low-budget films are made of. 

My final advice is that it is very important to try to 
have a sufficient budget for editing. We did, and that 
kept the final cost down, as the editing didn't drag on 

Finally. I would just like to say that despite the fact 
that low-budget films are limiting in many ways, they 
are also freeing. Many new things can be tried in a 
low-budget film that you would never dare do with 
more money riding on it. Many new directors and 
actors, technicians and designers start this way. I 
think that when all of us, including critics, look at a 
film, we should consider its budget. Instead of looking 
at a film such as Legacy and saying it's not like a 
Hollywood feature, we should start by saying that it's 
new and interesting, and that it's phenomenal that it 
was ever made at all! Though a comparison between 
Lipstick and Not a Pretty Picture in terms of subject 
matter is obvious, they are films designed to fit 
completely different budget scales and to do com- 
pletely different things. Not a Pretty Picture was 
intended to break new ground in terms of subject and 
work. For many of us, it did just that. Q 

Hilary Harris continued 

exposure and one for the interval between frames on 
the camera. Then, in addition, I mounted the whole 
camera on a tripod head which was geared at 27,000 
to 1 reduction ratio so that it's actually capable of one 
revolution of the camera in three days. I can go that 
slow with it. But I can also go. . . I've forgotten what 
the maximum speed on it is. . .but it's something like 
one revolution in three minutes. 
TC: Actual time? 

HH: Yes. For instance. I have a chart ... it's really a 
nice motor, by the way, a DC with a solid-state 
control, a sophisticated SCR control, and a dial so you 
can set up the exact speed of the motor and know that 
it's going to be at that speed ... so I have a chart, and 
I can set it up so that I know it will do a 90-degree pan 
within six hours. I can track shadows. I can figure out 
the exact speed I need to track shadows, or track a 
slow-moving ship, or clouds... I've done some nice 
things with clouds, but I haven't used them in the 
film. There are a lot of potentials for the rig which I 
haven't explored yet. 

In addition to the panning and tilting, I put a small 
geared DC motor on the zoom, but it's not as sophisti- 
cated as the other ones. It works on a pulse system 
where every time an interval is over and ready to take 
the next frame, or rather at the end of the interval, the 
zoom motor will pulse for a predetermined amount of 
time so I can get very small movements that way. I 
can't gear that motor down slow enough. 

I don't know how much you want me to go on about 
these technical things. 

TC: I think that's pretty solid on what the technical 
thing was. It's just that, as I said, in stop-motion films 
where an animation stand is not used, you don't see 
many camera moves. In Organism those moves look 
easy because the viewer gets used to the rhythm of the 
stop-motion. In actuality, though, those moves are 
very difficult to do. 

I don't want to put the thrust of the interview into a 
cinematographer's perspective, as is my tendency, 
because I do love gadgets and innovations, and things 
like that, but I'm wondering if there are some things 
you could elaborate on that would add a little more 
depth to what you've discussed so far. 

HH: Sure. I could just say a few things about the 
techniques. You have to do, for instance, a cushioning 
of movment at the beginning and end, and that's one 
of the trickier aspects. My rig is sort of semi-auto- 
matic. Once I set it up, like for tracking a shadow, I 
can leave it for several hours while it's shooting, but 
when there's an exposure change or a cushioning of 
the movement at the beginning and the end of the 
pan, I have to be there to do that manually. I worked 
out a slide rule that showed me the relationships of the 
interval to the amount of screen time versus the 
amount of time taking place in front of the camera 
and the compressions ratio that that gives you. I 
thought that would actually be a nice device to 
produce and make available to people who want to get 
into stop motion. That's one of the things about this 
kind of work — you have to decide on a whole new 
element in your photography, which is how fast you 
want to interpret, what speed you want the scene to go 
at. Usually it's just exposure and focus that you have 
to think about and not the speed of stuff. I've done a 
lot of experimenting and obviously have my own 
recommended speeds for things. I thought that might 
be a useful thing for other people who want to use the 
medium . . .to know that if you want clouds to come by 
fairly fast, you use this kind of an interval. If you want 
ships to look funny, you use this kind of interval. You 
can make them look funny or you can make them look 

Anyway, the exposure thing is something else that's 
really hairy. I don't know, I feel like talking about it 
for just a second because I know you would appreciate 
this problem, of how, when the sun, for instance, 
starts coming up, let's say you're shooting a night 
scene. . .1 always have trouble describing this prob- 
blem. What you've got, basically, at night is the land 
lit from the light, and as dawn arrives, the first thing 
that happens is that the sky begins to get a little light. 
And there's a point at which you've got to decide what 
you're going to expose, if you're going to expose the 
sky or the land. If you expose the sky, then the land 
tends to disappear too quickly. It's a compromise 

situation. I guess it's going to be hard to describe. It 
becomes a silhouette. Then, when the sun comes 
up. . .of course it depends on the cloud cover and 
what not. . .it's kind of disconcerting to have the land 
go black and just see the sky. So there's always a 
problem of what you're going to use as your reference 
point for the photography. What I found was when 
the sun came up, it just made everything so bright 
that I was looking into the sun and it would destroy 
the scene. I had to zoom in on the land and then I 
would be able to maintain the exposure. It was inter- 
esting to be able to make those decisior.s while 
shooting because you have those few seconds between 
where you can decide which way you're going to go. 
You may suddenly decide to zoom in. It's kind of 
hairy and fascinating. But also there's an interval 
change on these things which is something for the 
people who are interested in that kind of thing. . .like 
if you run a scene all night, well that's, you, 
eight or ten hours. In the winter, it's certainly more 
like twelve to fourteen hours. And if you use the same 
interval at dawn and dusk, your dawn and dusk gees 
by like that. So I changed the interval. It's one of 
those aesthetic interpretations, because the dawn and 
dusk are the most fascinating times when you see that 
change and the beauty of the shifting of the light. I 
changed the interval at that point. I get much more, 
and it's less compressed. 

During an all-night scene, you might be shooting an 
interval often minutes between frames and then when 
dawn comes, it might come all the way down to thirty 
seconds during and between frames. You're able to 
appreciate the changes that happen at dawn and 
dusk. It's the most interesting part. I'd like to go to 
the North Pole sometime and track the sun and be 
able to watch the rotation of the earth underneath the 
camera because you would be right at the axis point. 
And if you could make the reference to the sun as a 
stationary object, you could then zoom back and see 
the earth rotating underneath. I wonder whether I'll 
ever get a chance to do that. 

TC: I think that's the kind of thing you have to 
have $100,000 you can piss away on commissions and 
do it. That brings to mind something I wanted to ask 
that I thought was interesting: what is it like and what 
do you think about when you're on those buildings for 
a lot of time? And when you were shooting, you 
probably didn't go away for coffee. What is that 
experience like? It's one thing to shoot a commercial 
and keep going crazy because the art director is an 
asshole and telling you that the camera doesn't look 
level. It's another thing to be up there for hours and 
hours, and it's just like spaceville. So I'd like you to 
describe that. 

HH: Well, I had a marvelous opportunity for one 
thing with the Empire State Building. They lent me an 
office for a few weeks and I would just go up with my 
sleeping bag and stay there. . .hole up. . .and it was 
beautiful, like you're really in a high place. Once you 
get going, you know you have lapses in between. You 
get the camera going. It's really an odd sense of 
power, or fear. I really get a kick out of the sense of 
power, having this thing going, realizing that I'm 
capturing something really unique. It's clicking away, 
and the photography is really weird. Once you've got 
your parameter set, you know you're going to get the 
picture right. I mean, things can go wrong. You 
always wait to see the rushes. But I've gotten so that I 
really can count on the damned thing coming out. It's 
really a nice feeling to sit back and hear those frames 
clicking off and realizing that you can make the 
changes and make the adjustments necessary and feel 
that time going by and know that it's all going to be 
compressed down into this intense few moments on 
the screen. Other than that, I don't know. Also, the 
accidents that happen are fun. I caught a fire up there 
on the Empire State Building without expecting it. 
Luckily, the camera wasn't tied up. I also had two 
cameras. I had a little Eyemo with another type of 
release device on it. 

TC: Did you leave the camera alone for long periods 
of time or did you feel you had to stay there? 

HH: No. That was really nice, like on that pan on 
the shadow. I got that going in the morning and I 
knew there was nothing to do the whole day unless the 
clouds suddenly came over and it really got dark, not 
just a few clouds you wouldn't have to make any 
adjustments for. So I was running around town doing 

28 /July, 1976 /Independent GAZETTE 

errands and once in a while I would look up at the 
Empire State Building and realize that I was clicking 
away. . .it was really nice. Actually, I got too carried 
away with it and got back a little bit late on one of the 
shots. 1 would have liked to have tilted up a little 
sooner. What I was doing was tilting up as the sun 
went down. . .1 would tilt up and I caught the moon 
rising. That was frustrating, not knowing exactly 
when the moon was coming up, because I hadn't 
figured that out exactly. I wanted a big close-up of the 
moon, with the 250 zoomed out all the way, as it 
emerges out of the smog and it's just a big orange ball. 
It's those first few seconds or minutes that are really 
strange. All you notice is some weird thing in the sky 
that gradually becomes the moon. I had to shoot that 
a little wider than I would have liked, not knowing 
exactly where that moon was going to come up. But, 
no, there's no reason to be there. I just locked the 
door and left. 

It's funny, that very thought made me think of 
hitch-hiking, because you can't predict what's going 
to happen exactly. You don't know what clouds are 
going to float across or what ships are going to come 
up the river or planes are going to streak across the 
sky. So it's like sitting back and letting it happen. 
And somehow that freedom is like hitch-hiking — you 
don't know how far you're going to get that day. You 
sit back and you're at the graces, or mercy, of 
whatever the momentary decision is of somebody 
coming by deciding to stop or not. 

Also, another type of shooting is the demolition of a 
building, say, or the construction of a building. I've 
done a few of those. They're not all successful; I 
mean, they're really hairy because of the light changes 
that happen. Every day, from one to the next, the 
colors change, the clouds change. I've never got an 
automatic exposure thing set up. But even so, it 
wouldn't solve the color change problems. Maybe if 
you did an optical printing job and you did color 
corrections on each frame, it done reason- 
ably smoothly, but I've never gotten into it that 
deeply. But there, you pin up a camera in somebody's 
window and ask him if you can leave it there for an 
extended period. Plug it in and just go and change the 
film every few weeks, and keep recording that you've 
done that. A lot of editing. . .Pat did some of that. . . 
the worst kind of editing, cutting out bad frames and 
selecting certain parts of the day just to hold, and 
cleaning up a scene that's messy because of a lot of 
bad weather or something like that. 

TC: What was her involvement in the project? 

HH: She helped me with some editing problems like 
that and mixing the tracks, putting together some of 
the tracks, which is fairly complex. During the brain 
analqgy of the city . . . that's one of the analogies that 
interests me the most. If you study the brain, you 
realize that there is an incredible amount of activity 
going on in our heads that we're totally unaware of. 
It's a highly active electro/chemical device that is 
operating whether we're asleep or awake. Our con- 
sciousness only takes a small part at a time, and we 
can tap in and remember this or observe that, and go 
back and forth in time. I make that analogy between 
those kinds of services that the brain gives us to the 
services of the city. We can jump on the subway and 
go up and send a telegram or pick something up. The 
city is all laid out in this random access, like this 
random access device. The grid is very convenient, 
very efficient for finding our way and selecting a 
specific point out of a great many possible inputs. The 
brain is actually like that. It has grid structures in it, 
highly organized groups of nerves and whatnot. I 
thought that was a funny analogy. It's a hard one to 
get across to some people. Not everybody gets it. 

TC: What is the analogy in the film? What is the 

HH: Some of it is slime mold. When you see those 
little bits of little single-celled animals sort of moving 
along tracks, that's a slime mold colony. Then there 
are close-ups of blood streams in a living hamster — 
it's a hamster cheek pouch. To do that photography, 
they drugged a hamster and stretched out its pouch 
under the microscope. It was a doctor up at Boston 
University who did that beautiful photography. I 
mean, he was kind of an unconscious artist... or 
maybe he was conscious of it ... I don't know, but it's 
beautiful stuff. 

Then there's another shot that's symbolic of the 

whole film. I don't know if you remember those thin, 
light blue structures that were kind of long, thin 
things with granules moving around them back and 
forth, but I make an analogy between that and high- 
ways. But they're actually the legs of a parasite that 
lives inside the stomach of a termite. I can't remember 
the name of the particular animal, but that parasite is 
really not a parasite. . .it's a symbiotic relationship. 
He produces enzymes that permit the termite to digest 
the wood. They're discovering in biology. . .some 
theories are developing. . .that a lot of the complex 
animals were built out of small animals getting to- 
gether into these symbiotic relationships, because at 
times these little parasites lose their legs and they float 
around almost like separate animals and come to- 
gether. I don't know enough about it to talk too 
intelligently, but it is interesting. 

TC: There is a negative side of shooting a film with 
the stop-motion perspective of Organism. 

HH: Yes. I've had the experience of a certain num- 
ber of people really getting overwhelmed, getting the 
feeling that they were just trapped in a mechanism. 
You can make that interpretation or you can sort of 
realize that you have a separate identity but that you 
are embedded in this other thing and that it's an 
extraordinary mechanism. Of course, you can take it 
or leave it. To some extent, as individuals, we can 
make that decision. Like the city is such an entity, 
such a thing in itself, it's really hard to imagine every- 
body just splitting. Yeah, I'm afraid it's here to stay. I 
think we have to make it better. It's possible, and 
that's what makes it interesting. 

I also show this film with TheNuer, which is a study 
of an African people, because these are my two most 
recent films. The Nuer is a 75-minute study of these 
people who live in what we would call a very primitive 
way. They live very close to their cows and they have 
no tools or technology other than a very simple hoe to 
help them with the corn. They crush corn with a heavy 
piece of wood and so forth. It's very peaceful there. In 
other words, I discovered a kind of sense of peace that 
I had never felt before, not since I was a baby. And I 
came back with it; it was in my body. I remember 
getting off at the London airport and just looking 
around and realizing that I was a different person. I 
kept that, really, for two, three weeks. And I still 
know it. But our society is so incredible in terms of the 
number of inputs, the number of choices, the number 
of things we get accosted by or confronted with. It's 
very hard to have that sort of sense of unity and 
cohesion about it all. That's why I'm doing this New 
York film. I've also had this experience with the 
Navajoes out in New Mexico years ago, sensing that 
they had this incredible power, hearing them singing 
out at night around a huge bonfire, and sensing that 
their connection with their surroundings. ..a trans- 
cendence. . .was a very high experience, a sort of 
sense of unity. 

Another thing that happened to me happened in 
Africa. I picked up Newsweek magazine when I was 
there, sort of in the middle of my stay, and I just 
looked it over and that's when I had the sense of the 
number of inputs that we seem to cram into ourselves. 
You know, we've gotten all these incredible new tools 
of communication and distribution. . .basically it's 
communication. We're a little overwhelmed by it, I 
think, and we need to have another perspective. The 
idea behind Organism is not that we're entrapped in 
this device but that we're a part of it, and that if we 
can see that, we can see we're part of it. We can see 
the whole thing and can realize that we're all people 
with human needs who are creating this and making it 
happen. We can then begin to transcend all of this 
jangling input and begin to let things fall into place, 
into different priorities, and begin to see the beauty of 
it and the relationship that we have with it. That kind 

of recently emerged as just where I've been moving 
and going, overall, and how I hope to achieve that 
idea. And I think that an artist basically has that 
responsibility to take, to reflect his environment in a 
more comprehensible fashion. Suzanne Langer talks a 
lot about the function of art being the creations of 
feeling images upon which we base our vision of what 
life is. and that art is a collected knowledge of man's 
understanding of the subjective world. It's not a staid, 
rigid thing as the objective sciences. Even they 

We're really suffering, you know, and the scientists 
are suffering today trying to understand the world 
because they don't have solid, feeling images of what 
it is. And this holistic philosophy is an attempt to see 
where we are in a new perspective because we've run a 
little bit out of control. 

TC: How do you spell "holistic," and what is it? 
The "hole" meaning the "whole"? 

HH: Yes. Weirdly enough, "holistic" is spelled 
h-o-l-istically. And I don't know what the reason is. 
That's wierd, but it is the study of wholes. And people 
in anthropology have done some work in this area. 
This article of mine quotes a few people like Paul 
Weiss who said that we're learning more and more 
about less and less, and that that's one of the big 
dangers, that we have to somehow get broad pictures 
and see where we are. 

TC: What article is that? 

HH: I have that two page thing — you must have 
seen it. It's about the communications process be- 
tween one culture and another. As soon as you go to 
another culture, you are an instrument for absorbing 
information. Indian anthropologists from India would 
go and probably see quite a few different things that 
were of interest to them. And each of us individually 
would see different things. The point is that when 
you're there looking, you're already interpreting, and 
then, when you're photographing, you're interpreting 
even more. And I think you have to take responsibility 
for that, you have to say that you're making choices 
and you're making a statement about these people, 
and that, after all, is what is valuable. You're not 
making a report for God or for somebody on Mars. I 
bring that up because you could get bogged down in 
trying to be objective and precise, and I don't think 
that's the point. That's all I'm trying to say. 

TC: Yes. I think that one of the reasons you can't 
do that is because their culture tends to be much more 
subjective and contains all those things that are 
counter to that idea (objectivity and precision). I was 
just shooting in Mexico — a very isolated tribe. Unless 
you can participate on the level they're participating 
on, in a sense, you ... if you decide you want to be 
objective . . . miss the boat because that is exactly 
what it isn't. It's like trying to describe a color film in 
black and white. It's very difficult because there are 
contradictory elements. Most of what the upwardly 
mobile segment of our society deems valuable is 
inherently destructive to the Indian culture. So in a 
sense, you really do have to go out of the way. And 
fortunately, on the one hand, I've done enough 
psychedelic drugs so that I understand what that 
experience is like in terms of my own culture, and I 
can start to extrapolate that in terms of theirs. . .1 
would prefer to see animals and gods. I do see them, 
so I can be very sympathetic on that level and certainly 
very subjective. But it was incredible because I've 
never done a thing like that, never been in a film 
situation like that before, and it was really extraor- 

HH: How long were you there? 

TO. I was actually only with them for two weeks, a 
very short period of time. Most of the time, I was 
going in and out. 

HH: Is that the state of Sonora? 

TC: I really can't say a lot about it at this time. 
Anthropology, and especially anthropological film- 
making, is more competitive than I could have im- 
agined. It really can be like one newspaper scooping 
another with a hot story. 

HH: Right. 

TC: I keep a lot of humorous elements about it in 
terms of their perspective and mine. When they saw 
the amount of hair I had on my body, they wanted to 
burn it off. It's hard to go back and forth between that 
experience and living in New York. 

HH. Yes . . . it's quite a nice challenge. Q 

Independent GAZETTE/July, 1976/29 

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